Everything You Need To Know About Chocolate
We've got all the chocolate facts, tips, and recipes here!
Chocolate is one of the most popular food items in the world, and no wonder: its unique flavor makes it irresistible to many, while its versatility and variety make it easy to incorporate into a lot of recipes, from snacks and desserts to savory meals.
What Is Chocolate?
Chocolate is a food product made from cacao beans that have been fermented, roasted, and ground. It is made with cacao solids, cocoa butter, and depending on the kind of chocolate that's being produced, varying amounts of sugar and milk.
Chocolate can be eaten on its own.
The most common form of chocolate you'll see in the market is as a candy bar or chocolate confection. It's probably most people's first contact with any form of chocolate as it's readily available for consumption and comes in a variety of sizes and flavors.
Chocolate is used in baking and cooking.
One of the reasons why chocolate is such a versatile product is that it can be used as an ingredient for baking. Chocolate is commonly used as a featured flavor in baking, and in some cuisines and recipes, it can also be used when cooking savory recipes.
Different Kinds of Chocolate, By Cocoa Content
There are three types of chocolate that are usually seen in the market: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.
1 Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has the purest in terms of cocoa content: it is made by combining cacao solids, cocoa butter, and the least amount of sugar.
There are many kinds of dark chocolate as well, depending on the sugar level:
- • Unsweetened chocolate has no sugar content.
- • Bittersweet chocolate has the lowest sugar content.
- • Semisweet chocolate has mid-range sugar content.
- • Sweet dark chocolate has the most sugar content.
2 Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate is made by combining cacao solids and cocoa butter as well as milk powder or condensed milk, which gives it its signature creaminess. This kind of chocolate is also sweetened with sugar.
3 White Chocolate
White chocolate is made without the brown-colored cacao solids, which is how it gets its pale color. It is made by combining only cocoa butter, milk powder, and sugar. While the milk powder and sugar makes white chocolate creamy, the distinct taste of white chocolate comes from the cocoa butter.
Different Kinds of Chocolate, By Quality
Not all chocolates are created equal, and depending on what you're using chocolate for, it's important to pay attention to its quality. Although there are overlaps, chocolate for eating and chocolate for baking can be wildly different in composition, and whether it's for eating or baking, the quality of the chocolate you use can affect the overall taste, texture, and experience.
1 Couverture Chocolate
Couverture chocolates are considered high-quality chocolate that is suitable not only for baking but also for making high-quality chocolate bars and chocolate displays. When eaten, they also impart a richer chocolate flavor because of both the amount of cacao solids and cocoa butter as well as the quality of the ingredients used in making them. Couverture chocolate is made specifically with a higher ratio of cocoa butter, which, when tempered properly, gives the final product a glossy sheen, a firm snap when broken, and a creamier, richer flavor.
2 Compound Chocolate
Compound chocolates are considered lower-quality chocolates that can be used for baking and eating, too. However, the difference between it and couverture chocolate lies in the fact that while it also contains cocoa butter, the amount is in a smaller quantity as it is mixed with non-cocoa fats like coconut or vegetable oils. Unlike couverture chocolate, which needs to be tempered in order to be used properly, compound chocolates can simply be warmed for it to be used.
Chocolate In the Philippines
Filipinos love chocolate, and this is evident in our long history of producing and consuming locally-made chocolate, more commonly known as tsokolate tablea or simply tablea. Tsokolate tablea translates to "chocolate tablets" and is usually the main ingredient used to make tsokolate, a local chocolate beverage akin to hot cocoa.
Here's everything you need to know about tsokolate tablea, including how to make tsokolate, plus all the other things you can do with tsokolate tablea.
Tips on Buying Chocolate
1 Check what kind of chocolate you need.
If you're hankering for chocolate as a snack, going for your favorite chocolate candy bar is fine. However, if you're buying chocolate because it's part of a recipe, make sure to check the recipe's ingredient list for the specific kind of chocolate you'll need.
2 You can choose which kind of chocolate to use.
While couverture chocolate is regarded as the highest-quality chocolate in terms of its ingredients and characteristics, it's not always necessary to make your chocolate pastry or confection delicious. It's usually the most expensive type of chocolate there is, so you can choose to use compound chocolate or even regular chocolate bars that are great for snacking if that is the kind of chocolate you like to eat and is within your budget. A good quality compound chocolate can work just as well in cakes, chocolate chip cookies, and other baked chocolate goods. With proper technique, it can also be used to make great ganache and chocolate bars, too.
3 Different chocolate variations have different flavor profiles.
Again, if it's simply a preference for chocolate candy bars, then you can pick whatever you like! But if you're going for a specific taste or look, it's important to know the difference in looks and flavor between dark, milk, and white chocolate.
Tips on How to Use Chocolate
In cooking or baking, chocolate can be used in many different ways. It's important to know how to handle chocolate properly since it can easily seize up. Chocolate that has "seized" means it becomes clumpy, the cacao solids and cocoa butter begin to separate, and it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to use. Here are tips on how to use chocolate:
1 When melting chocolate, use a microwave or a double boiler.
It's important to pay close attention during this process because when chocolate is overheated, it can seize up and taste burnt.
2 Avoid getting your chocolate wet.
Moisture and chocolate don't mix well, and when chocolate gets wet, it seizes up and loses its silky-smooth texture.
Here are other tips you need when baking with chocolate.
3 You can use chocolate ganache to make a variety of chocolate products.
Depending on the ratio of chocolate to cream, you can use it as a chocolate drip or coating, or as a decadent chocolate frosting.
1 Chocolate Bark and Confection Recipes
The most challenging part about making chocolate bark and chocolate confections is knowing how to melt the chocolate properly. Once you've mastered this skill, however, there's no limit to the flavor combinations you can create!
2 Chocolate Cake Recipes
Everyone needs a good, reliable chocolate cake recipe that they can easily whip up for parties or chocolate-related emergencies (we see you, midnight snackers)!
3 Chocolate Cupcake Recipes
The best thing about these chocolate cupcake recipes is that they're not only amazing for wowing big crowds; they're also super fun and quick to make!
4 Chocolate Cookie Recipes
Always have cookies on hand with these delicious chocolate cookie recipes. Pro tip: most of these have doughs that can be made ahead, so you can always enjoy them freshly baked!
5 Filipino Chocolate Recipes
These chocolate-based Filipino desserts are the best representations of what it means to be a chocolate-loving Pinoy.
6 Chocolate Dessert Recipes
From no-bake chocolate desserts to baked chocolate pies (and everything in between), there's a recipe for any kind of chocolate (or baking method) you prefer!
7 Chocolate Drink Recipes
There is nothing more soothing than hot chocolate on cold or rainy days, and here we've got not only hot cocoa recipes but tsokolate recipes as well!
8 Savory Recipes with Chocolate
Who says chocolate is only for sweets? Don't knock it 'til you've tried it with this savory recipe.
- • Did you know that there's a chocolate museum? Lindt opened a chocolate museum inspired by the popular children's book and movie: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!
- • Tsokolate, or the Filipino hot cocoa beverage, is briefly featured in Noli Me Tangere, the novel penned by the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. Padre Salvi, who was a priest in the novel, used a "special code" when asking his servant to prepare chocolate for his guests. When he says tsokolate eh, he means to serve thick and rich chocolate, usually reserved for his guests with high social status. When he asks for tsokolate ah, he wants his servant to prepare a watered-down cup of hot chocolate for the guests he didn't like.
- • The Philippines produces award-winning chocolate! Davao's Malagos Chocolate has bagged at least five international awards.
- • Chocolate can be good for your health! Dark chocolate in particular has health benefits; it is antioxidant-rich and is a natural stress reliever.
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.