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Types Of Chocolate

Chocolate has been around for centuries now. It is popular confection and is a flavor used in many other baked goods and foods. Today chocolate consumption in the world is roughly $20 billion annually. There are so many types of chocolates today, gourmet, handmade, bars, chips, cooking chocolate – all catering to the immense market there is for chocolate.
Chocolate all over the world is manufactured from cocoa beans that are only grown in Africa. Each region that specializes in chocolate making has added its own nuance to chocolate making.
Europeans are known for their high grade and tasty handmade chocolates. But Hershey from America is known for its milk process chocolate. It has a distinctive taste only found in American milk chocolate.

The history of chocolate is just as rich as chocolate itself. The name chocolate comes from Aztecs and is based on the word ‘cacahuatl’ or ‘xocolatl’ which means bitter drink.  The Spaniards introduced the world to it and slowly each European nation found a niche that they specialized in. The Swiss created milk chocolate. Belgium created pralines. Italy created beautiful cocoa. It was also in Europe that the bitter drink was seasoned with milk, sugar and vanilla. This became a luxury for the Europeans. It was finally Christopher Columbus who brought this luxury to America.

History textbooks are replete with examples of kings using chocolate as an aphrodisiac. The earliest use of cacao dates back to 1100 BC. Cacao beans were used as a treatment for diarrhea and fatigue. The beans were used as currency too. Chocolate is derived from the Theobroma Cacao tree. The word ‘Theobroma’ is also called the food of the gods. Chocolate in human history has often been referred to as food of the gods. That’s what chocolate was in history. 

Today chocolate is more readily available. Chocolate is available in small milk chocolate chips to large blocks of completely unsweetened chocolate. Which would you choose and how would you decide? There are many different types of chocolate in the market for different kinds of cooking and baking.  There are at least ten types of basic chocolates.

Raw chocolate is chocolate that is not heated or mixed with anything. It is often only sold in cocoa growing countries. Compound chocolate is when vegetable fats are mixed with cocoa. Then, there is unsweetened or bitter chocolate which is all bitter and used in cooking on a professional level. It is also the solid form of chocolate liqueur as it has a deep, strong chocolate flavor.

Dark chocolate is the most common form used in cooking. It is also called plain chocolate or black chocolate. The percentage of cocoa decided how bitter this chocolate will be. Dark chocolate with a concentration of even up to 90 per cent of cocoa is available. Dark chocolate is further categorized into three categories: Bittersweet, Semi sweet and Couverture. Bittersweet has less sugar, up to under one third of sugar as compared to the cocoa. The US FDA allows 35 per cent of cacao, either through solids or through fat to be classified as bittersweet. Semi sweet is often used only for cooking and has equal amounts of sugar and cocoa. Couverture is chocolate that is rich in fat and was created first in Belgium. This type of chocolate contains cocoa up to 85 per cent or more and fat up to 35 per cent or more.

Another type of chocolate is milk chocolate. It was first created in Switzerland when Henri Nestle added condensed milk to chocolate. Today milk is added in liquid or powder form as well. This type of milk is sweeter than the other kinds. White chocolate is another popular form of chocolate though technically as there are no cocoa solids in it. White chocolate is made from milk, sugar and fats, which could be cocoa fats like cocoa butter.

Cocoa is another form of using chocolate. It is the remnant once cocoa butter is extracted from ground cocoa beans. Cocoa is used as a flavoring agent in many baking and drinking dishes. There are even cacao nibs, chocolate liqueur and cocoa butter, other forms of chocolate that are used.

Chocolate is also used in the form of chocolate chips. There are different forms of chocolate chips. Dark, semi sweet, sweet and milk chocolate chips are the basic flavors with other flavors like mint, butterscotch, toffee, white, and white and dark swirled chocolate chips. You should taste and smell the chocolate you want to use before you actually purchase the chocolate. It should have a snap to it. If it crumbles, it is stale chocolate. It should also smell strongly of chocolate. If any other smell dominates, then chances are the taste will also be dominated by that same flavor. Chocolate, like wine, is known to have subtle flavors like citrus notes, berry, coffee, floral and wine undertones which are showcased when you taste the chocolate. That is why it is important to taste the chocolate before you buy it. Some of the popular brand names to purchase chocolate from are Ghirardelli, Callebaut, Lindt, Green & Black, Valrhona, Schraffen Berger and many more smaller producers who are today available online.

All these kinds of chocolate types make cooking with chocolate that much more fun. You can make different types of chocolate cakes, chocolate pies, truffles and cookies with all these chocolates. Tortes, Sacher tortes, Truffle cake, cakes with glazes, ganaches and chocolate fillings, all are up for grabs with the variety available today.

Chocolates are usually eaten in the form of candy bars. There are many types of candy bars that are popular today. Each popular bar has one element that creates many fans. The most popular additions in chocolate candy bars are peanuts or any nuts, peanut butter, nougat, caramel, biscuits, crispies, malt. Cadbury and Nestle are two important torch bearers in the candy bar industry.  The popular candy bars are Snickers, Kit Kat, Mars, Milky Way, Butter Fingers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey Bar and M&Ms.
Submitted on January 16, 2014