This article is going to help you to choose chocolate suitable for your recipes.
Before reading this article, please make sure to read my Theory of Chocolate Part 1 –
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, we are talking about CHOCOLATE here NOT compound. COMPOUND IS NOT CHOCOLATE.
OK. Shall we start?
When we talk about Chocolate in general, the primary categorization is according to how chocolate has been made –
1) White (Cocoa Butter + Milk Powder + Sugar)
2) Milk (Cocoa Liquor + Milk Powder + Sugar)
3) Dark (Cocoa Liquor + Sugar)
If you’ve read Part 1 of this article, then you know the detailed difference between these 3 kinds of Chocolates.
➡️ When it comes to taste, we can do the following categorization –
3) SEMI SWEET
Slightly less sweet and more intense than regular Milk chocolate but this can be – milk or dark.
Tastes bitter with some sweet notes – Usually Dark.
A bit more intense and less sweet than bittersweet.
These, in general, are Dark Chocolates which are bitter.
These can be either 100% chocolate which is basically Chocolate Liquor. Or can be Chocolate with sugar substitutes like Stevia or Erythritol.
➡️ Now, perfection lies in understanding what kind of chocolate you’re dealing with.
Recipes are always going to tell you to use Milk Chocolate or Dark or White, but all Milks, Whites or Dark Chocolates are not the same. In fact, each one of them is different.
For eg. you can have Dark/Milk Chocolates that are – 50%, 66%, 72%, 80%, 90% and 100% as well.
Are they all the same? No. Why?
Because the percentage tells you how much of the product is Cocoa. And the rest is going to be sugar (in case of Dark) and sugar + milk powder (in case of milk). So straight up, if you’re going to replace a 72% Chocolate in a recipe with a 50%… What do you need to do?
Reduce sugar in the recipe.
Will it give you the same result as using a 72% chocolate? No. Because 72% will be more intense. But if 50% is all you have, then at least your final product will not be overly sweet if you smartly reduce the sugar content of the recipe.
➡️ Shall we get more deeply into it?
Remember from part 1 of the article, how I explained what the percentage of Cocoa indicates in chocolate?
It indicates the % of the product which is derived from the Cacao Fruit.
It can be all Cocoa Liquor, it can be Cocoa Butter, it can be Cocoa Powder. It can also be a combination of any of these.
Now, If there are 2 companies, both having products with the same percentage of Cocoa, say 72%. Are they both going to be the same product?
You need to check the ingredients at the back of the packaging.
If it’s a Dark Chocolate made only with Cocoa Liquor + Sugar, then you know that 72% is straight up Cocoa Liquor.
But if the packaging says – Cocoa Liquor + Cocoa Butter + Sugar
Then you know that 72% comprises of both Cocoa liquor and Cocoa butter. Which means that this is going to be less intense than the other company’s 72%.
But this also means that this is going to be more ‘fatty’ commonly perceived as ‘more creamy’ on the palate.
Sometimes you can have both chocolates with added Cocoa butter, and often times companies don’t specify as to how much of the product is Cocoa butter and how much is Cocoa liquor, they just indicate the total percentage of Cocoa.
So, I would use a higher cocoa butter chocolate for patisserie (Ice Creams, Mousse, Cheesecake, Anglaise etc.) and a lower Cocoa butter chocolate for baking (like chocolate chip cookies)
➡️ Shall we get even further into it?
(Stay with me. I’m not trying to confuse you, I’m only trying to give you more insight into this)
Now let’s say, there are 2 companies, both have the same 72% Dark Chocolates, both have the same breakdown of the 72%. Are they now the same product?
But why? They have the exact same breakdown of ingredients, then why are they still not the same?
Now is where we get more deeply into it.
Here’s where there can be two differences –
- One chocolate can have a higher temperature roast than the other (remember from part 1 of the article how I told you that Cocoa Beans are roasted in the chocolate-making process?!!)
The higher roast will indicate a more bitter flavour.
It can be a gentle and consistent hight temp, which can lead to a more ‘evenly pleasant’ bitter flavour. Or it can be a very high temp roasting resulting in a ‘sharp bitter’ almost ‘burnt’ flavour.
Chocolates which use beans with such high roasts, usually have a lot of sugar added to mask the bitterness, or have added flavouring agents or are used in Milk chocolates, because Milk Powder neutralizes a lot of these bitter notes.
Most commercially available cheaper chocolate like Cadbury, use inferior quality beans with high/almost burnt roasts. They don’t really care about this stage of the production, to keep costs down. They anyway add a ton of flavouring agents or milk powder to make an ‘acceptable tasting’ chocolate product in the end.
- Cocoa Bean used in one chocolate can be single-origin compared to the other which can be a mixed bag.
Single-origin chocolate is made with Cocoa beans of the ‘same-origin’, usually the ‘same species’.
This can greatly affect the flavour of the chocolate. Using Beans of the same species gives a much more robust and ‘specific’ flavour to the chocolate than using a bunch of mixed beans.
In this case, all you can do is to taste the product and judge.
➡️ Let us now talk about another important aspect.
A lot of beginners think that the only difference between Milk and Dark Chocolate is that the former is sweeter than the latter.
Now, if you’ve read the part 1 of this article, then you’ll know the real difference between Milk and Dark chocolate is that the former has Milk Powder added to it.
So, if you have two 50% Chocolates, it is possible that one is Milk and the other is dark.
For eg. Bournville is a Milk Chocolate (even though it is advertised as dark) because of the addition of milk powder in the ingredients list, as opposed to a 50% Kocoatrait Chocolate which is Dark, which doesn’t have milk powder.
This is going to influence the flavour hugely. So before using any chocolate, make sure to read the ingredients and not be mislead by false marketing.
I hope you now have a little more insight as to how to choose the perfect chocolate for whatever recipe you’re following. The key is to taste and read about the product you’re using and then make the judgement call.
I know you’re going to ask me for brands of chocolates. The ones I proudly recommend are the ones which are Made In India – Kocoatrait, Cocoacraft, Mason & Co.
Other than this, I’ve not tried Indian Chocolate.
There’s lots more to explore.
What brand I write here, does not matter at all. What matters is your own experience with chocolate. The more you pay attention to your ingredients, the better your product will be.