Chocolate most commonly comes in dark (bottom), milk (middle), and white (top) varieties, with cocoa solids contributing to the brown coloration.
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Chocolate is a range of foods derived from cocoa (cacao), mixed with fat (e.g., cocoa butter) and finely powdered sugar to produce a solid confectionery. There are several types of chocolate, classified according to the proportion of cocoa used in a particular formulation.
The use of particular name designations is sometimes subject to international governmental regulation. Some governments assign chocolate solids and ranges of chocolate differently.
The cocoa bean products from which chocolate is made are known under different names in different parts of the world. In the American chocolate industry:
- chocolate liquor is the ground or melted state of the nib of the cacao bean, containing roughly equal parts cocoa butter and solids.
- cocoa butter is the fatty component of the bean.
- Dry cocoa solids are the remaining nonfat part of the cocoa bean, which are ground into a powder.
Different forms and flavours of chocolate are produced by varying the quantities of the different ingredients. Other flavours can be obtained by varying the time and temperature when roasting the beans.
- Milk chocolate is solid chocolate made with milk added in the form of powdered milk, liquid milk, or condensed milk. The first known variation with donkey milk was developed by Jordan & Timaeus in 1839. In 1875 a Swiss confectioner, Daniel Peter, developed a solid milk-chocolate using condensed milk, which had been invented by Henri Nestlé, Peter’s neighbour in Vevey. Cadbury is the leading brand of milk chocolate in the United Kingdom. The Hershey Company is the largest producer in the US. The actual Hershey process is a trade secret, but experts speculate that the milk is partially lipolyzed, producing butyric acid, and then the milk is pasteurized, stabilizing it for use. This process gives the product a particular taste, to which the US public has developed an affinity, to the extent that some rival manufacturers now add butyric acid to their milk chocolates.
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- Dark chocolate, also known as “plain chocolate”, is produced using a higher percentage of cocoa with all fat content coming from cocoa butter instead of milk, but there are also “dark milk” chocolates and many degrees of hybrids. Dark chocolate can be eaten as is, or used in cooking, for which thicker baking bars, usually with high cocoa percentages ranging from 70% to 100%, are sold. Baking chocolate containing no added sugar may be labeled “unsweetened chocolate”.
- Semisweet and bittersweet are terms traditionally used in the United States to indicate the amount of added sugar in dark chocolate. Typically, bittersweet chocolate has less sugar than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable when baking. Both must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids; many brands now print on the package the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate.
- Couverture chocolate is a class of high-quality chocolate containing a higher percentage of cocoa butter than other chocolate which is precisely tempered. Couverture chocolate is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing (‘couverture’ means ‘covering’ in French). Popular brands of couverture chocolate used by pastry chefs include: Valrhona, Lindt & Sprüngli, Scharffen Berger, Callebaut, and Guittard.
- White chocolate is made of sugar, milk, and cocoa butter, without the cocoa solids. It is pale ivory coloured, and lacks many of the compounds found in milk and dark chocolates. It remains solid at room temperature as that is below the melting point of cocoa butter.
- Ruby chocolate is a type of chocolate created by Barry Callebaut. The variety was in development from 2004, and was released to the public in 2017. The chocolate type is made from the Ruby cocoa bean, resulting in a distinct red colour and a different flavour, described as “sweet yet sour”.
- Raw chocolate is chocolate that has not been processed, heated, or mixed with other ingredients. It is sold in chocolate-growing countries, and to a much lesser extent in other countries, often promoted as healthy.
- Compound chocolate is the name for a confection combining cocoa with other vegetable fats, usually tropical fats or hydrogenated fats, as a replacement for cocoa butter. It is often used for candy bar coatings. In many countries it can not legally be called “chocolate”.
- Modeling chocolate is a chocolate paste made by melting chocolate and combining it with corn syrup, glucose syrup, or golden syrup. It is primarily used by cakemakers and pâtisseries to add decoration to cakes and pastries.
Flavours such as mint, vanilla, coffee, orange, or strawberry are sometimes added to chocolate in a creamy form or in very small pieces. Chocolate bars frequently contain added ingredients such as peanuts, nuts, fruit, caramel, and crisped rice. Pieces of chocolate, in various flavours, are sometimes added to breakfast cereals and ice cream.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the naming and ingredients of cocoa products:
|Product||Chocolate liquor||Milk solids||Sugar||Cocoa fat||Milk fat|
|Buttermilk chocolate||≥ 10%||≥ 12%||< 3.39%|
|Milk chocolate||≥ 10%||≥ 12%||≥ 3.39%|
|Mixed dairy product chocolates||≥ 10%||≥ 12%|
|Skim milk chocolate||≥ 10%||≥ 12%||< 3.39%|
|Sweet chocolate||≥ 15%||< 12%|
|Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate||≥ 35%||< 12%|
|White chocolate||≥ 14%||≤ 55%||≥ 20%||≥ 3.5%|
In March 2007, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, whose members include Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Archer Daniels Midland, began lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the legal definition of chocolate to allow the substitution of “safe and suitable vegetable fats and oils” (including partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) for cocoa butter in addition to using “any sweetening agent” (including artificial sweeteners) and milk substitutes. Currently, the FDA does not allow a product to be referred to as “chocolate” if the product contains any of these ingredients. To work around this restriction, products with cocoa substitutes are often branded or labeled as “chocolatey” or “made with chocolate”.
The legislation for cocoa and chocolate products in Canada is found in Division 4 of the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR), under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA). The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the FDR and FDA (as it relates to food).
|Product||Cocoa butter||Milk solids||Milk fat||Fat-free cocoa solids||Cocoa solids|
|Milk chocolate||≥ 15%||≥ 12%||≥ 3.39%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 25%|
|Sweet chocolate||≥ 18%||< 12%||≥ 12%||≥ 31%|
|Chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate||≥ 18%||< 5%||≥ 14%||≥ 35%|
|White chocolate||≥ 20%||≥ 14%||≥ 3.5%|
The use of cocoa butter substitutes in Canada is not permitted. Chocolate sold in Canada cannot contain vegetable fats or oils.
The only sweetening agents permitted in chocolate in Canada are listed in Division 18 of the Food and Drug Regulations. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, maltitol, etc.) are not permitted.
Products manufactured or imported into Canada that contain non-permitted ingredients (vegetable fats or oils, artificial sweeteners) cannot legally be called “chocolate” when sold in Canada. A non-standardized name such as “candy” must be used.
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Products labelled as “family milk chocolate” elsewhere in the European Union are permitted to be labelled as simply “milk chocolate” in Malta, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
|Product||Total dry cocoa solids||Cocoa butter||Non-fat cocoa solids||Total fat||Milk fat||Milk solids||Flour/starch|
|Dark chocolate||≥ 35%||≥ 18%||≥ 14%|
|Couverture chocolate||≥ 35%||≥ 31%||≥ 2.5%|
|Chocolate vermicelli or flakes||≥ 32%||≥ 12%||≥ 14%|
|Milk chocolate||≥ 25%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 25%||≥ 3.5%||≥ 14%|
|Couverture milk chocolate||≥ 25%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 31%||≥ 3.5%||≥ 14%|
|Milk chocolate vermicelli or flakes||≥ 20%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 12%||≥ 3.5%||≥ 12%|
|Family milk chocolate||≥ 20%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 25%||≥ 5%||≥ 20%|
|Cream chocolate||≥ 25%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 25%||≥ 5.5%||≥ 14%|
|Skimmed milk chocolate||≥ 25%||≥ 2.5%||≥ 25%||≤ 1%||≥ 14%|
|White chocolate||≥ 20%||≥ 14%|
|Chocolate a la taza||≥ 35%||≥ 18%||≥ 14%||≤ 8%|
|Chocolate familiar a la taza||≥ 30%||≥ 18%||≥ 12%||≤ 18%|
In Japan, ‘chocolate products’ are classified on a complex scale.
Chocolate materials (チョコレート生地, chokorēto kiji):
- Pure chocolate material (純チョコレート生地, jun-chokorēto kiji)
- Cocoa content ≥35%, cocoa butter ≥18%, sucrose ≤55%, lecithin ≤0.5%, no additives other than lecithin and vanilla flavouring, no fats other than cocoa butter and milk fats, water ≤3%
- Pure milk chocolate material (純ミルクチョコレート生地, jun-miruku chokorēto kiji)
- Cocoa content ≥21%, cocoa butter ≥18%, milk solids ≥14%, milk fats ≥3.5%, sucrose ≤55%, lecithin ≤0.5%, no additives other than lecithin and vanilla flavouring, no fats other than cocoa butter and milk fats, water ≤3%
- Chocolate material (チョコレート生地, chokorēto kiji)
- Cocoa content ≥35%, cocoa butter ≥18%, water ≤3%. It is also permitted to substitute milk solids for cocoa content as follows: cocoa content ≥21%, cocoa butter ≥18%, combined milk solids & cocoa content ≥35%, milk fats ≥3%, water ≤3%.
- Milk chocolate material (ミルクチョコレート生地, miruku chokorēto kiji)
- Cocoa content ≥21%, cocoa butter ≥18%, milk solids ≥14%, milk fats ≥3%, water ≤3%
- Quasi chocolate material (準チョコレート生地, jun-chokorēto kiji) a
- Cocoa content ≥15%, cocoa butter ≥3%, fats ≥18%, water ≤3%
- Quasi milk chocolate material (準ミルクチョコレート生地, jun-miruku chokorēto kiji)
- Cocoa content ≥7%, cocoa butter ≥3%, fats ≥18%, milk solids ≥12.5%, milk fats ≥2%, water ≤3%
Chocolate products (チョコレート製品, chokorēto seihin):
Products using milk chocolate or quasi milk chocolate as described above are handled in the same way as chocolate / quasi chocolate.
- Chocolate (チョコレート, chokorēto)
- Processed chocolate products made from chocolate material itself or containing at least 60% chocolate material. Processed chocolate products must contain at least 40% chocolate material by weight. Amongst processed chocolate products, those containing at least 10% by weight of cream and no more than 10% of water can be called raw chocolate (生チョコレート, nama chokorēto)
- Chocolate sweet (チョコレート菓子, chokorēto kashi)
- Processed chocolate products containing less than 60% chocolate material
- Quasi chocolate (準チョコレート, jun-chokorēto)
- The quasi symbol should officially be circled. Processed quasi chocolate products made from quasi chocolate material itself or containing at least 60% quasi chocolate material.
- Quasi chocolate sweet (準チョコレート菓子, jun-chokorēto kashi)
- Processed quasi chocolate products containing less than 60% quasi chocolate material
Chocolate is a product based on cocoa solid or cocoa fat or both. The amount and types of cocoa solids and fat that the term implies is a matter of controversy. Manufacturers have an incentive to use the term for variations that are cheaper to produce, containing less cocoa and more cocoa substitutes.
There has been disagreement in the EU about the definition of chocolate; this dispute covers several ingredients, including the types of fat used and the quantity of cocoa. In 1999, however, the EU resolved the fat issue by allowing up to 5% of chocolate’s content to be one of 5 alternatives to cocoa butter: illipe oil, palm oil, sal, shea butter, kokum gurgi, or mango kernel oil.
A recent workaround has been to reduce the amount of cocoa butter in candy bars without using vegetable fats by adding polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), which is an artificial castor oil-derived emulsifier that simulates the mouthfeel of fat. Up to 0.3% PGPR may be added to chocolate for this purpose.
Cacao beans can be tested for their quality as a certain variety using DNA tests, especially by testing single-nucleotide polymorphisms that act as markers.
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