Sweet Treats: Exploring Types of Chocolate
What do you think of when you hear the name Maple Ridge Farms? Some of you may think of our jumbo cashews or our cheese and sausage, but we believe the majority of you think of our tasty chocolate confections! We offer a wide variety of selections in the different types of chocolate — why don’t we take a look at the differences?
Let’s start with how chocolate is made and what actually determines the differences.
The type of chocolate is determined by the various amounts of cocoa butter and chocolate liquor contained in the chocolate. The amount of sugar and some other ingredients also determine the type of chocolate.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which are the seeds from the cacao tree. The cacao tree has pods and inside each pod is where the cocoa beans are located. Once the beans are removed from the pod they are dried. After roasting the beans, the inner kernel is broken into smaller pieces called nibs. The nibs are ground into a thick liquid called chocolate liquor. (Despite its name, there is no alcohol in the chocolate liquor.) The chocolate liquor can be pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids.
There are many types of chocolate, but today we will look at the four most common types.
Unsweetened chocolate is commonly known as baking chocolate and is pure chocolate liquor mixed with a form of fat to make it solid. This type of chocolate has a bitter taste and it is not meant for consumption on its own. When one of our colleagues was 8 years old, she offered some chocolate to some of her friends after a long day at school. With smiles on their faces, they all bit into the chocolate at the same time. Their smiles quickly disappeared when they realized that their friend had pulled a trick on them!
Milk chocolate is probably the type of chocolate that people are most familiar with. Milk solids such as milk powder or condensed milk are blended with sugar and chocolate liquor. It is typically very sweet and has a light color. Milk chocolate is rarely used in baking, other than in cookies. To be considered milk chocolate, it must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor and at least 12% milk solids. Cocoa butter and milk solids are the only fat allowed in milk chocolate according to the FDA. Our Milk Chocolate Covered Almonds are our most popular treat!
Dark chocolate is really growing in popularity and is another of the main types of chocolate. In addition to the health benefits, dark chocolate has a more intense chocolate flavor than milk chocolate because it contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids which also makes the chocolate less
sweet. Our Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels combine this intense flavor with sea salt to create a unique taste. The percentage of cocoa solids in dark chocolate is usually over 35%. Dark chocolate contains little to no milk solids. This type of chocolate can be enjoyed as is or used in cooking or baking.
Some people say that white chocolate is not technically chocolate because it does not contain chocolate liquor or cocoa solids. We disagree! White chocolate can be used for baking, candy and more. According to the FDA, white chocolate must contain a minimum of 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids and a maximum of 55% sugar.
No matter what type of chocolate you prefer, there is guaranteed to be a sweet treat out there with your name on it!