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Chocolate is made by fermenting, shelling and crushing cacao bean kernels to produce “nibs,” which are about 50% cocoa butter. The nibs are ground and pressed into a paste known as chocolate liquor, which forms the basis for all types of chocolate. Here’s a breakdown of five popular chocolate classifications.
A mixture of chocolate liquor, sugar and milk solids, milk chocolate has the creamiest flavor for all the chocolate styles. European milk chocolates tend to be less sweet with a deeper flavor than most American-made milk chocolate.
With 60-75% cacao solids, this chocolate tastes richer than milk chocolate. Because it’s not too sweet, it’s often ideal for baking.
Cocoa powder is extracted solids of the cacao bean that are ground into a fine powder, and is often used in baking. Conventional cocoa powder relies on baking soda for leavening, while Dutch-process cocoa is treated with an alkali and is dark, less acidic and more mild flavor.
Made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids, white chocolate is actually not considered chocolate at all, because it lacks the key defining element: chocolate liquor.
Unsweetened chocolate is entirely chocolate liquor and contains no sugar in its purest form. It’s also sometimes known as baking chocolate.
Guittard chocolate has been an American favorite since 1868. Today, Amy Guittard carries on the company’s tradition of excellence.
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What color is the chocolate? Scrutinize the surface. It should be even-colored with glossy, smooth surface. Air bubbles, white marks or swirling could indicate defects.
When you break off a piece of chocolate, it should snap crisply and yield a sharp broken edge. This indicates that the chocolate was properly tempered.
Inhale the aroma of the chocolate. Is it strong or subtle? Draw from your sensory memory to observe what the chocolate smells like. For instance, you may detect notes of toasted nuts, citrus, caramel or coffee.
Place the chocolate on your tongue and allow it to melt slowly. Pay attention to any flavors that may arise, like almonds, raisins, or lemon, and how those flavors evolve. See how those flavors respond to pairings like wine, coffee, dried fruit and nuts.