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How Chocolate Is Made

How Chocolate Is Made

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Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate?

There are quite a few differences between white chocolate and other chocolates, the most noteworthy being that white chocolate contains no cocoa solids or chocolate liquor.  This actually removes it from the “chocolate” category by FDA standards, but it’s still considered chocolate by many because of its cocoa butter content.  For it to still be considered “white chocolate” by the FDA, at least 20% of its weight must be made up of cocoa butter.

More of a confection than anything else, white chocolate is made up of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids.  Lecithin and other flavourings, such as vanilla, may be present in white chocolate, but you won’t find any chocolate liquor.  It offers none of the nutritional benefits that come with eating dark chocolate, but in many opinions, the lack of cocoa solids makes it no less tasty!

Another huge difference between chocolate and white chocolate is its complete lack of chocolaty brown colour.  The more milk that is added to pure chocolate the lighter it gets, which is why milk chocolate shades can vary so much from dark chocolate.  However having no cocoa solids at all, a creamy looking ivory shade is achieved.

In the production of white chocolate the cocoa butter may be deodorized to remove the strong cocoa taste that may be cherished in the darker varieties.  Because no cocoa solids are present, the caffeine and theobromine contents are also greatly reduced.

While white chocolate may seem like an imitation of its cocoa solids containing cousin, imitations of white chocolate can also be found as white compound chocolate.  This is a confection that is made up of the same ingredients as white chocolate, but the cocoa butter is substituted for vegetables fats.  Because no cocoa butter is present, an actual “white” colour can be accomplished rather than the creamier off-white of real white chocolate.

Despite its potential health benefits, not everyone is a lover of the bitter, dark chocolate flavour as it’s more of an acquired taste.  Most people enjoy milk chocolate but not everyone’s an enthusiast.  However, if utterly sweet and sinful sounds like your type of treat you’re probably an avid indulger of white chocolate.

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Chocolate Production: From Bean to Bar

Like most other foods, the quality and taste of the chocolate you eat is going to depend heavily on the ingredients used and production methods followed.  From bean selection to molding process, every step plays a part in determining the quality, cocoa intensity, and flavour of your favourite types of chocolate.

Bean Selection and Processing

The selection of the cocoa bean, grown mainly in South America and West Africa, is the first step to quality chocolate production.  Once these beans are chosen and harvested they are removed from their pods, fermented, dried, and roasted.  The shells are then removed to reveal cocoa nibs which are crushed and liquefied to make chocolate liquor.

The chocolate liquor contains cocoa solids and coca butter, and when pressed the cocoa butter is removed and the two components are separated.  If the chocolate liquor is not to be pressed it can be molded and hardened to make unsweetened chocolate.

Producing Different Types of Chocolate

To make the tasty edible chocolate most people are familiar with, chocolate liquor or cocoa solids are combined with cocoa butter and a number of other ingredients, such as vanilla or other flavourings, depending on the type of chocolate being made.

Sugar and sometimes vanilla may be added for dark chocolate, and milk products can be further added for milk chocolate.  Alternatively, white chocolate omits the chocolate liquor and cocoa solids and is made up of only the cocoa butter, sugar, and milk products.  Any number of different flavours, additives, and emulsifiers may be used to customize the chocolate to the manufacturers needs.

Refining and Preparing for Consumption

Once the manufacturers have the desired combination of ingredients, the chocolate is put through a conching process to give it that sought after smooth and creamy texture chocolate lovers crave.  The more refined the chocolate, the smoother its texture will be.

The final step to perfect chocolate is the heating and cooling process known as tempering.  Varying hot and cool temperatures are used to manipulate the formation of the cocoa butter crystals.  This process determines the firmness and pliability of the chocolate and if done properly the chocolate should have a smooth and glossy sheen.

Finished Chocolate Products

The end result of the preparation process will provide a moldable chocolate dough which can be formed into chips, blocks, chunks, or bars.  It will then be ready for packaging and shipment around the world for consumers to buy as gifts or savour for themselves.

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