Hello and Welcome to the Canadian Chocoholic Blog. So happy to have you here.
Chocolate. It’s more than just a simple treat. Chances are you are aware that ‘chocolate’ grows on a tree and is a fruit, but what else do you know about chocolate?
This blog is about going back to the basics with some information about cacao and chocolate. I aim to not overwhelm you but to share some information that will be helpful as you navigate the world of chocolate because I know it can be overwhelming to walk down the chocolate aisle at the store sometimes.
So, let’s start with chocolate. Chocolate as we eat it in chocolate bar form does not grow on a tree. It takes a lot of work for cacao to be made into chocolate.
Chocolate is ‘a food preparation in the form of a paste or solid block made from roasted and ground cacao seeds, typically sweetened’. “A bar of chocolate”’ according to the Oxford Dictionary. Chocolate is ‘a food made from roasted and ground cacao seed kernels that is available as a liquid, solid, or paste, either on its own or as a flavouring agent in other foods.’ according to Wikipedia.
Cacao ‘is the seed from which cocoa and chocolate are made’ says Wikipedia.
Theobroma cacao is the plant name that cacao pods grow on. The seeds in the pods are then turned into chocolate through a long process that take time and includes caring for the plant as it grows, harvesting, fermenting, drying, shipping, receiving, sorting, roasting, winnowing, refining, tempering, moulding, and wrapping before being shipped off to the shelves of a shop. It is a long process that I will go into more later in this series of blog posts.
Chocolate comes in many forms and qualities, some good, some great, some maybe not so great, all a little different as each chocolate artist puts their own spin on their product. I want to help you on your journey to understanding the differences.
Craft/Artisan Chocolate Makers – often called bean to bar chocolate, though all chocolate is bean to bar in some way. Craft and artisan chocolate are when a chocolate maker is making the chocolate, starting with the dried cacao bean and working with it until it is in a chocolate bar form. Chocolate maker is the key here, as they make the chocolate.
Farm to bar – refers to when the farm where the cacao is grown is also where the bar of chocolate is produced.
Mass chocolate – this is the product of big chocolate companies where large quantities of beans are processed in a factory and made into products or made for others to use.
Chocolatiers – chocolatiers purchase already made chocolate, from mass chocolate makers or artisan chocolate makers and then create confections that can include (but are not limited to) chocolates, chocolate bars, bonbons, pastries, cakes, baked goods, sauces, ice cream, hot chocolate, etc. They are often using couverture chocolate to do this.
Couverture chocolate – this chocolate contains more cocoa butter than your average chocolate bar, this makes it easier to make things like bonbons or chocolates and is ideal for chefs and chocolatiers.
Baking chocolate – is chocolate made for baking with, it is often untempered (it doesn’t always look pretty, more info coming in future blogs) if you purchase it from a chocolate maker as this step is not needed if you are heating it up, or if you purchase it from the grocery store chain it may have additives in it.
These are some of the basic words found in the world of chocolate. I will dive deeper into each one, as well as share a handy guide of things to look for when you are shopping, including how to read chocolate packaging, in future blog posts, so stayed tuned.
Shown above are some cacao beans and a bar of chocolate.
Chocolate is a big world with so many parts, I hope this helps you understand just a bit of it. If you have any questions be sure to let me know below in the comments.