This Article is About
chocolate
dark chocolate mousse
cocoa butter
cocoa bean
chocolate products
white chocolate
foray
adjectives
Basics Of Chocolate
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Basics Of Chocolate

Ahhh Chocolate! America's favorite flavor and a beloved ingredient and food item. It was only very recently that I started cooking with chocolate myself. I resolved for the new year to learn to prepare dark chocolate mousse by making a different recipe every month for a year.

This past January was literally my first time to work with chocolate. I absolutely love chocolate but don't love cheap chocolate candy bars, don't love sugar, and I would rather have no chocolate at all than eat what I would call "bad" or "cheap" chocolate. And there is an unfortunate overload of chocolate products that fit that category.

There are so many different adjectives connected to chocolate that I wasn't sure what chocolate to buy at first. With the experience of January's and also February's foray into dark chocolate mousse, I have already learned quite a few basics about chocolate that I thought I'd share with you.

1. Dark chocolate is a general term used for any chocolate that isn't milk chocolate or white chocolate. So if you want to use a low-sugar, dark chocolate then what you want is bittersweet or semi-sweet. But even then, you need to read the label.

2. Chocolate with no sugar in it is going to be labeled "unsweetened." Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate will have sugar but the higher the percentage of cocao, the less sugar. I usually choose at least 70% or higher--meaning the chocolate is 70% or more cocoa.

3. Processing of cocao beans is quite interesting and worth reading about. Cocoa butter is a natural vegetable fat from the cocoa bean. When the cocoa butter is further refined, it is separated into solids and liquid. The liquid from cocoa butter is called "chocolate liquor" which gives the true chocolate flavor.

4. "White chocolate," is not really chocolate. It is cocoa butter with a little chocolate flavor, sugar, and other ingredients. If you are buying white chocolate and the label doesn't say "cocoa butter, then you are not getting white chocolate but just a confectionary coating.

5. And what about that cocoa powder for those who want to make high-quality hot chocolate drinks? Real 100% cocoa powder comes from chocolate liquor that is dried and powdered. Maybe you've also heard of "Dutch chocolate" which is a specially processed cocoa liquor that neutralizes the acid which naturally occurs in chocolate liquor. Dutch chocolate has its own unique taste.

6. Chocolate melts at a temperature just a little lower than body temperature. This is why it "melts in your mouth" and why you'll be sorry if you stick a chocolate candy in your pocket and forget it.

7. Cooking with chocolate is a delicate matter. Chocolate has to be handled gently when melting. It doesn't like to be scorched or burn and--take my word for it--burnt chocolate not only tastes bad, it stinks up the kitchen!

8. In my chocolate explorations I also learned about "seizing." This is what happens if you are melting chocolate and it comes in contact with water or steam. Even a tiny drop can cause the chocolate to "seize," which means it quickly balls up into a grainy mess. Not what you want for mousse making!

9. I also wanted to mention the subject of health benefits of chocolate. This is something I'm researching and there are many, many findings about what chocolate can do for you. I'm inclined to say this so far: chocolate in its pure form is not "bad" for you. It is not something to be eaten in large quantity however. What is unhealthy is all the sugar and any artificial ingredients that are added. Chocolate, like any other food, is far better when it is organic. Any chocolate product that is artificial or says "chocolate flavoring" is not real chocolate and is something to stay away from. Besides, once you indulge in real, high-end chocolate, you'll never go back to the junky stuff.

10. Chocolate is not just for dessert! I've been experiementing with savory chocolate sauces and cocoa powder added to other dishes. More on that later!


Street Talk

Joan S  

"A balanced diet is chocolate in both hands" Love chocolate! Am so happy to know that it is actually good for you, in moderation. Once made a savory dish made with cocoa powder. It was a Mayan beef stew. Delicious! Ate meat in those days. I'd be interested to read some of your savory chocolate recipes.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Haha! I like your definition of a balanced diet!!! Thanks Joan, I have one just about ready to post on my blog and will write a SA on it also.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Loved the yummy info here! Thanks. There seems to be a problem with your landing pages.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for the comment, Lewis! I tried out my link and it goes to my blog.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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