The mere mention of CHOCOLATES can make anyone delighted, whether he is young or old. This sinful delight, the ambrosia of gods, comes in different types, shapes, and sizes to woo the hearts of its lovers. It is a very popular food and is unlikely to go out of fashion. It is available in various forms and shapes in the market today. It has evolved over a period of time and besides being consumed directly, it is also used for preparing a wide variety of dishes.
Chocolates are made from cocoa beans (originally cacao, pronounced as ka-kow). There are different types of cocoa beans, which have different flavors and are used to prepare various types of chocolates. Cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground. There are over 500 flavor components, containing approximately 55% cocoa butter, which is the base for all types of chocolate.
Dark: No milk solids are added to it. This type contains liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla, sugar, and an emulsifier called lecithin. The content of cocoa in the dark variety ranges from 30%-40% for sweet dark and 70-80% for extremely dark chocolates. Semi-sweet and bittersweet falls into the category of the dark varietals.
Unsweetened: This type of chocolate is commonly used for baking and is made from ground cocoa beans. It is unfit for direct consumption, but when mixed with sugar, it can be used for baking. It gives a rich and deep flavor to baked goods like cakes, pastries, cookies, etc. It is used as a base for all types, except the white ones.
Bittersweet: It has a bitter and deeper flavor as compared to sweet dark or semi-sweet chocolates. The amount of liquor varies with each manufacturer. Most of these bars contain 50% liquor, while the other bars have a higher content of liquor, which goes up to 70-80%.
Sweet Dark: It does not contain milk solids, but has a high percentage of sugar and is much sweeter than other types of dark varieties. Many brands contain only 20-40% of cocoa solids.
Semi-sweet: It is assumed to be darker than the sweet dark variety, but it is comparatively sweeter than bittersweet chocolate. It contains 35-40% of cocoa solids and emulsifiers.
Milk Based: It is made from condensed milk or dry milk solids. It has a less pronounced taste, is sweeter than the dark variety and has a lighter color. It contains 3.40% butterfat, 10% liquor and 12% milk solids.
White: It does not contain liquor or any other cocoa product and is mainly made from cocoa butter. It tastes mostly like vanilla.
Gianduja: It is made from nut paste like, hazelnut or almonds. This European style chocolate comes in dark or milk varieties and is used as a flavoring agent or substitute for milk or dark varieties.
Couverture: It is used by confectioners and bakers for making candies. They have a high content of cocoa butter (30-40% approximately) and are available in milk, white and dark varieties.
Though there are many types of chocolates, it is the taste and aroma, that has made it so popular across the globe. It is consumed in solid, as well as liquid form and lends a unique flavor to the dish in which it is added.