Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Culinary IQ: Wednesday, October 19, 2011; Chocolate and Cocoa

Chocolate and Cocoa
Chocolate and cocoa are derived from cocoa or cacao beans. When the beans are fermented, roasted, and ground, the resulting product is call chocolate liquor, which contains a white or yellowish fat called cocoa butter.
Cocoa is the dry powder that remains after part of the cocoa butter is removed from chocolate liquor. Dutch process cocoa, or dutched cocoa, is processed with an alkali. It is slightly darker, smoother in flavork and more easily dissolved in liquids than is natural cocoa.
Unsweetened or Bitter Chocolate
Unsweetened chocolate is straight chocolate liquor. It contains no sugar and has a strongly bitter taste. Because it is molded in blocks, it is also referred to as block cocoa or cocoa block. It is used to flavor items that have other sources of sweetness.
Unsweetened chocolate is also known as bitter chocolate. Do not confuse this product with bittersweet chocolate which is a category of sweetened chocolate with a low sugar content.
In some less expensive brands, some of the cocoa butter may be replaced by another fat.
Sweet Chocolate
Sweet chocolate is bitter chocolate with the addition of sugar and cocoa butter in various proportions. If the percentage of sugar is low, sweetened chocolate may be called semisweet or, with even less sugar, bittersweet. Most chocolate used for baking or cooking usually display of percentage such as, Bittersweet 70%. The percentate refers to the percentage of cocoa liquor contained in the product.
Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate to which milk solids have been added. It is usually used as coating chocolate and in various confections. It is seldom melted and the incorporated in batters because it contains a relatively low proportion of chocolate liquor.
Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is the fat pressed out of chocolate liquor when cocoa is processed. Its main purpose in baking is to thin melted chocolate to a proper consistency.
White Chocolate
White chocolate consists of cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids. It is used primarily in confectionery. Technically, it should not be called chocolate, because it contains no chocolate solids.
Tomorrow I will discuss how to substitute cocoa for bitter chocolate and vis versa and coming Friday my discussion of various brands of baking chocolates and a delicious chocolate recipe! 

Adapted from: Professional Baking, Fifth Edition: Wayne Gisslen. John Wiley and Sons, Publishers

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