DARK CHOCOLATE....YUMMMM - PART 2

By
Real Estate Agent with Realty Executives Northern Arizona

Chocolate Glossary

Unsweetened Chocolate:
It is also called baking, plain or bitter chocolate. Since no sugar has been added to the chocolate it has a strong, bitter taste that is used in cooking and baking but is never eaten out of hand.

Bittersweet Chocolate:
Still dark, but a little sweeter than unsweetened. It is unsweetened chocolate to which sugar, more cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet has become the sophisticated choice of chefs. It contains a high percentage (up to 75%) of cocoa solids, and little (or no) added sugar.

Semisweet Chocolate:
Slightly sweetened during processing, and most often used in frostings, sauces, fillings, and mousses. They are interchangeable in most recipes. The favorite of most home bakers. It contains a high percentage (up to 75%) of cocoa solids, and little (or no) added sugar.

German Chocolate:
Dark, but sweeter than semisweet. German chocolate is the predecessor to bittersweet. It has no connection to Germany; it was developed by a man named German.

Milk Chocolate or Sweet Chocolate:
Candy bar chocolate. Chocolate to which whole and/or skim milk powder has been added. Rarely used in cooking because the protein in the added milk solids interferes with the texture of the baked products. It contains approximately 20 percent cocoa solids.

White Chocolate:
Many people might argue that white chocolate is not really chocolate. It is made from sweetened cocoa butter mixed with milk solids, sometimes with vanilla added. Since cocoa butter is derived from the cocoa bean, then we can only conclude that real white chocolate is indeed chocolate.

Conveture:
A term generally used to describe high-quality chocolate used by professional bakers in confectionery and baked products. The word means "to cover" or "to coat." It has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate. It's specially formulated for dipping and coating things like truffles. Chocolate of this quality is often compared to tasting fine wine because subtleties in taste are often apparent, especially when you taste a variety of semisweet and bittersweet couvertures with different percentages of sugar and chocolate liquor.


How Chocolate Is Made

Cacao trees are often interplanted with tall shade trees to protect them from direct sunlight. Pods grow on the trunks and larger branches of the trees and take five to six months to ripen. Fruit on the higher branches are harvested with blades on long handles and lower branches are cut with machetes.

The pods are cut open with machetes to reveal between 20 to 40 beans each, surrounded by a mass of stickly, white pulp. Traditionally, this was done immediately after harvest; today, pods are sometimes first stored whole for a few days to prime them for fermentation.

Fermenting begins when the beans come into contact with the air. Here, a worker uses a stick to gauge the depth of the mass in a vara, or measuring box, to determine the wage of the harvester, before transferring it to the fermentation bin. During fermentation, the pulp disintegrates, producing steamy heat and a pervasive, yeasty, sour smell. It is at this point that the beans first develop thier complex characteristics.

Drying of the beans after fermentation is done on slatted wooden trays in the open air. The beans are spread out evenly and raked periodically so that they dry uniformly. As the beans dry, their colors deepen, turning them into a carpet of sepia, umber, and mocha.

Aeration of the dried beans during storage is important to prevent the formation of mold. A worker tosses beans with a shovel to expose them evenly to the air.

Grading of the beans is done mechanically at the larger farms; smaller producers do it by hand. From baskets, the dried beans are transferred to burlap bags and transported to local selling stations, where they may be bought by large companies for export.

Arriving at the chocolate mills, the beans undergo a thorough cleaning, followed by the roasting which brings out the particular flavor of each variety. Throughout this process, a constant and exact temperature must be maintained. Correct roasting is exceedingly important since under-roasting leaves a raw taste and over-roasting results in a high pungent or even burnt flavor.

Now comes the cooling, shelling, and winnowing, from which the cocoa beans emerge cleaned and ready for blending. This important process requires expert knowledge and skill. Not only must the beans be selected which will produce the best chocolate flavor, but uniformity of blend must be preserved year in and year out.

After the blending, the cocoa beans are milled or slowly ground between great heated millstones. Under heat and tremendous pressure, the cocoa butter melts and mixes with other parts of the beans forming the ruddy chocolate liquor. The fragrant chocolate odor is now noticeable.

The liquor is then treated according to the product to be made. For unsweetened chocolate, the liquor is poured into molds and cooled rapidly in refrigerating rooms. Then the cacao emeres in familiar form, as bars of chocolate, ready to be wrapped and sold.


Storing Chocolate

Keep the chocolate in a cool, dry place. Chocolate is best kept at around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a pantry or dark cabinet. It has a shelf life of approximately one year. The normal air conditioned room provides adequate protection.

Freezing chocolate is not recommended; when you freeze it and then thaw it out, it will have a greater tendency to bloom.

NOTE: Bloom is the white, filmy reside that can develop on chocolate. This usually happens when the chocolate is stored in a warm place, but can happen when you freeze it.


Using Unsweetened Cocoa

There are two styles of cocoa - natural and "dutched." The difference is an additional processing step. Natural cocoa is mildly acidic. Dutched cocoa has been alkalized (so its supposed to be smoother, less bitter and more soluble).

Rule of Thumb:
Dutch process is alkalized and cocoa such as Hershey's cocoa is non-alkalized. If your recipe calls for Dutch process cocoa and you don't have any and you want to use Hershey cocoa, add a smidge of baking soda to even out the alkalinity and keep the cake from being coarse and dry. And vice versa - if you are baking a cake and it calls for regular cocoa and all you have is Dutch-processed cocoa, just leave out any baking soda in the recipe.

 DARK CHOCOLATE.....YUMMMM.....

We are pleased to bring you this information.  We encourage you to follow our blogs for helpful information.  When you are buying or selling real estate, our expertise will make your home buying experience enjoyable.  Call The Cody Anne Team today!  Cody Anne 928-848-1188 or Micheal Yarnes 928-533-6859.  Check out our websites www.codyanne.com or www.SearchPrescottRealEstate.com .

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