Chocolate is one of the most popular types of food and flavours in the world. It is used in desserts, like cakes, puddings, brownies, etc. Chocolate is used to fill candies, and bars of solid chocolate that are snacks on their own. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate.
Be it baking or coating, there is a chocolate to suit your flavour needs. We’ve described the main variants below so you can take your pick.
Also known as baking and bitter chocolate, unsweetened chocolate is made by cooling and moulding chocolate liquor into blocks. Chocolate liquor is pure cocoa mass, produced from cocoa beans that have been fermented, dried, roasted, and separated from their skins, then ground and melted.
Although it looks and smells like chocolate, unsweetened chocolate has a bitter taste and is not meant for consumption on its own — it is best used in cooking, when it can be combined with sugar to make it more palatable. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, allowing it to lend a deep, rich chocolate flavour to baked goods. Raw chocolate, often referred to as raw cacao, is always dark and with a minimum of 75% cacao. It is also the base ingredient for all other forms of chocolate, except white chocolate.
Chocolate that contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin (an emulsifier). Dark chocolate does not contain any milk solids, and has a commercial cocoa content that ranges from 30% (sweet dark) to 70- 80% for extremely dark bars. Bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate also fall into the ‘dark chocolate’ category.
Identified as chocolate that contains at least 35% cocoa solids, most bittersweet chocolate bars contain at least 50% chocolate liquor, with some bars pushing 70-80%. This chocolate often has a deeper, more bitter flavour than sweet dark or semi-sweet bars.
This type contains at least 35% cocoa solids, and is generally assumed to be darker than sweet dark chocolate, but sweeter than bittersweet due to a higher sugar content.
Sweet dark chocolate
This chocolate does not contain milk solids, but has a high percentage of sugar, making it sweeter than other dark chocolates. Many brands of sweet dark chocolate have only 20-40% cocoa solids.
Much of the chocolate consumed today is milk chocolate, which is a sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. Generally, milk chocolate has at least 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids. It also has more sugar than dark or semisweet chocolate, a lighter colour, and a less pronounced chocolate taste. Milk chocolate is more difficult to temper properly and more prone to overheating.
Some people think white chocolate is not really chocolate as it is made from cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and flavourings, but no cocoa solids. Although similar in texture to that of milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate does not contain any theobromine, and is hence safe for animals to consume.
Used primarily by professional bakers or confectioners, this chocolate contains a very high percentage (at least 30%) of cocoa butter, as well as a high percentage of chocolate liquor. This high ratio makes it expensive, but it also means that the resulting chocolate is smooth and melts quickly and evenly. Couverture chocolate is the preferred chocolate for tempering and enrobing candies.
When cocoa butter is removed from chocolate liquor, it leaves behind a solid block. This is crushed and ground into a powder, to give you typically unsweetened cocoa powder, which can be used for a variety of purposes, including baking and garnishing.