Quality of chocolate

1.Fermenting of the cacao beans is a crucial step in developing the flavour, aroma and essential oils in the beans. Quality will vary tremendously if the beans are under or over-fermented.

2.What is cocoa mass? Finely ground nibs are ground and refined into a thick, non-alcoholic paste called chocolate liquor (also known as cocoa mass)

3.How is cocoa powder made? Once heated, chocolate liquor is squeezed by hydraulic presses and filtered, separating into about 47% dry cocoa and 53% cocoa butter

4.Cocoa powder does not contain any cocoa butter? Cocoa powder, even though it is hydraulically pressed, still contains small amounts of cocoa butter (8 - 26%).

5.The melting point of cocoa butter? Since the melting point of cocoa butter is just below body temperature, quality chocolate will actually take some time to melt in your mouth, the chocolate will feel creamy, smooth and long-lasting.

6.The higher the amount of cocoa mass added to chocolate, the darker and less sweet it will be? Dark chocolate ranges from semi-sweet to bittersweet. Basically, the more cocoa mass used, the darker the chocolate will be and less sugar will be added.

7.Quality dark chocolate - does not contain milk. Milk chocolate and white chocolate contains milk solids.

8.Does white chocolate contain any cocoa mass? It contains cocoa butter and no other element of the cocoa bean. Other usual ingredients are milk solids, sugar and sometimes vanilla.

9.What about the ingredients? The first ingredient on a package of quality dark chocolate should be cocoa mass (also listed as cocoa beans or cocoa liquor).

10.The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, higher the quality? These percentages are helpful for consumers to gauge how intense the chocolate will be. The best chocolate is the chocolate that you enjoy the most. Just because a package has a high percentage, does not mean quality. It all comes down to the ingredients and the quality and variety of the cocoa beans and how they were processed.

11.Are hydrogenated vegetable shortening and coconut oil are often substituted for cocoa butter? To cut chocolate manufacturing costs these fats are used to replace the cocoa butter. Chocolates made with these fats are bland in flavour. They tend to leave a waxy feeling in the mouth and melt almost immediately on the tongue. They do not come close to the superior qualities of cocoa butter.

12.How should quality chocolate look like? Chocolate with a smooth surface and a radiant sheen, it is indicative of good tempering procedures. Otherwise there will be visible inconsistent stripes, shades of grey or small bubbles.