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Types of Chocolate

"What is the difference?"

Different types of chocolate are primarily determined by their levels of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, milk products. You will find that most chocolate especially the dark chocolates have a cocoa liquor percentage listed. The higher the percentage the more bitter and intense the flavour.

Each manufacturer developes their own special blend giving each brand their own identity. The lifelong quest for chocolate lovers is to research the world of chocolate to find their favourite types of chocolate – taste testing for a chocoholic is never a problem.

Types of Chocolate

Couverture chocolate

This is the premium form of chocolate. It is made from the finest ingredients and used by professional chocolate makers and bakers. It has a high percentage of cocoa butter which gives the finished product a high gloss. It is more expensive than the other forms of chocolate and requires more skill to use.

It must be tempered to show off its premium qualities. Dark, milk and white couverture are available in block and button form.

Dark, Bittersweet and Semisweet chocolate

These types of chocolate all fall into the same category with their differences determined by the cocoa liquor and sugar levels. They are interchangeable in baking and really it is your taste preference that determines your choice.

The higher the cocoa liquor percentage on the packaging the more bitter and intense in flavour the chocolate will be. The cocoa liquor content can vary between 35 – 90 percent. Due to its intense flavour and dark colour dark chocolate is the recommended chocolate in baking.

As the name suggests bittersweet chocolate is less sweet than semisweet chocolate. The confusion comes when you compare brands as there is no clear definition of what level of cocoa liquor determines if a chocolate is bitter or semi sweet. What is important is that dark, bitter and semi are interchangeable so you now have the perfect excuse to try them all to find your favourite!

Milk chocolate

As the name suggests this chocolate has the addition of milk solids in the form of powdered or condensed milk. The milk solids content should be a minimum of 12 percent. The cocoa liquor is lower and therefore the sugar content higher.

The differences in its composition to dark chocolate means that milk chocolate is sweeter, paler in colour and has a less intense flavour. Milk chocolate is the most popular eating chocolate. Milk chocolate contains cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, powdered or condensed milk and vanilla.

It can also contain an emulsifying agent usually lecithin.

White chocolate

The first thing that everyone says about white chocolate is that it is not actually chocolate. This is technically correct but everyone knows it as chocolate. White chocolate does not contain cocoa liquor this ingredient is what determines a type of chocolate.

Instead it contains cocoa butter, sugar, powdered or condensed milk and vanilla. It can also contain an emulsifying agent usually lecithin. White chocolate is sweet with a smooth creamy texture and its flavour relies on the quantity and quality of cocoa butter used. White chocolate must be handled with care and does not withstand heating as well as other chocolate.

Compound chocolate

Sometimes known as cooking chocolate. Again the cocoa liquor content varies greatly in the dark and milk varieties. The substitution of some of the cocoa butter with cheaper vegetables means that the intensity of the chocolate flavour is reduced.

Most professionals would not even consider using these types of chocolate in their baking. I think however that if you find a good quality cooking chocolate its positives out way the negatives. Compound chocolate is less expensive, easy to work with and does not need tempering. The key is to find a variety that is labelled cooking chocolate and not just cheap compound chocolate. More taste testing I’m afraid until you find the perfect one!

Chocolate chips

Chocolate chips are designed specifically to hold their shaped during baking. These types of chocolate makes them ideal for chocolate chip cookies, brownies and muffins. Buy the best quality you can. Flavour is important here as you will bite into the chocolate pieces.

A successful chocolate chip cookie is measured on the taste of its chocolate chips not just how many it has. Chocolate chips can also be known as chocolate bits. Chocolate chips should not be used to replace other forms of chocolate in recipes. Chopped chocolate however can be used to replace chocolate chips.

Chocolate melts

In Australia we have chocolate melts. They are a compound chocolate that comes in dark, milk and white. They are chocolate buttons that are easily melted and are good for dipping and piping. The vegetable oil content is higher which makes this chocolate easy to handle.

The flavour of this chocolate is not of a high standard but serves a purpose. Chocolate melts do vary in quality so it is important to find the best you can. Confectionery coating would be a similar product.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder is cocoa liquor with most of the cocoa butter extracted. The cocoa liquor is roasted/heated then compressed to remove the cocoa butter. How long the liquor is compressed determines the fat content of the cocoa powder.

There are two basic types of cocoa powder natural and Dutch-process. Neither one is better than the other they are just different in colour and taste. Commercially cocoa powder is sold as either alkalised or non-alkalised with a fat content of 10-12 percent or 20-22 percent.

Natural cocoa powder is the more common of the two. It is lighter in colour, more bitter (acidic) and has a deeper chocolate flavour. It is also known as non-alkalised. Dutch-process cocoa powder is treated with an alkali during processing to reduce the acidity. This results in a cocoa powder with a darker colour, less bitter and milder taste. The word Dutch has nothing to do with the cocoa powders origins but in fact after the origin of the man that invented it.

Cocoa powder is the most economical way of adding the flavour of chocolate to your baking. Cocoa powder should always be sifted before adding to a recipe as it is always lumpy.

Now that the question of "What are the different types of chocolate?" has been answered, the only question left is "What is your favourite type of chocolate?" in my case it's usually what ever is the closest! but I guess if I had to choose then a dark chocolate would come first but not too dark.

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