By: Jodie Shield, RD
According to Forest Gump’s momma, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” I agree. Any chocoholic knows: Not all chocolate is created equal. Some taste bitter others sweet. Some are dark others white. Keep in mind, all chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that it’s botanical name is theobroma which means “food for the gods.” The beans are processed into a sticky, bitter paste called chocolate liqueur which consists of 53% cocoa butter and 47% cocoa solids. The liqueur is then used to create a variety of chocolate products with different ratios of cocoa butter to solids, and with varying degrees of additives such as milk and sugar. I’ve put together some definitions of chocolate to help you choose your chocolate with confidence.
Dark Chocolate:There are three main categories of dark chocolate – bittersweet, semisweet, and sweet. While their names suggest a range of sweetness, there is no labeling rule that determines the sugar content. Consequently, bittersweet and semisweet can be very similar, while as a rule of thumb sweet chocolate is usually the sweetest of the three. Dark chocolates can be eatin on their own or used in cooking and baking. They come in a variety of forms: bars, chips, and pieces.
Milk Chocolate: In addition to cocoa, several additional ingredients have been added to this type of chocolate. These ingredients include: sugar, milk powder, and flavorings such as vanilla. They are all blended together with cocoa butter which results in a rich, creamy chocolate.
Organic Chocolate:This type of chocolate is made from cocoa beans that have been grown without the use of pesticides.
Unsweetened Chocolate:It’s just cocoa powder and cocoa butter with no sugar at all. Unsweetened chocolate is primarily used for baking.
White Chocolate: According to the Food and Drug Administration, it’s technically not chocolate. That’s because it doesn’t contain any cocoa powders. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar, milk and added flavors.
Cocoa Powder:Is a general term for the portion of chocolate liquor that remains after most of the cocoa butter has been removed by a pressing process. The paste that results from this is then cooled, ground, and sifted. Cocoa powder is sold unsweetened; it is not to be confused with cocoa mixes that have added sugar and other ingredients.
Chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved foods. One billion people consume some form of chocolate every day. Hopefully this blog has taken some of the guessing game out of picking chocolate. So the next time someone offers you a box of chocolates, which one will you choose?