Remember the article on melting chocolate properly? A lot of you found it useful and I realised we all have a lot of questions regarding which chocolate to use for baking and cooking? Where can I find cooking chocolate in Delhi? Which chocolate brands are available in India?
I’m going to try and help you understand chocolate better with this post. I’ll also answer your questions on how to store chocolate. I’ve also tried to make this post informative because understanding your ingredients is very very important. If you have any questions regarding chocolates, please leave them in the comment blow. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing an article on whether to pick compound chocolate or couverture.
KNOWING YOUR CHOCOLATE
Chocolate may unarguably be the most universally cherished baking ingredient. It is considered the ‘food of the gods’, owing to its origin from the Theobroma cacao tree. From dark chocolate to white chocolate, there is a chocolate out there for everyone. The baking aisle is loaded with a variety of chocolate. In this post, we will learn about the composition of chocolates and how it affects the flavour of the dishes it is used in.
COMPOSITION OF CHOCOLATE
Chocolate is produced from the seed of the Cacao tree, fermenting which, cocoa is produced. The main constituents in any chocolate are chocolate liquor, cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Chocolate liquor, or simply ground cacao pods, is what gives chocolate its essential flavour. Cocoa butter imparts a smooth and glossy texture to the chocolate. Cacao being naturally bitter, sugar plays an essential role in balancing the flavour.
VARIANTS IN CHOCOLATE-
Based on the proportion of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and milk solids, chocolates are of three types- white, milk and dark. It may be surprising for some to hear, but white chocolate, in fact, is not real chocolate as it does not contain any cocoa solids. It’s created by adding milk and sugar to cocoa butter, giving it a sweet taste and creamy texture. Dark chocolate on the other hand does not contain any milk solids and may contain upto 80% cocoa solids, resulting in the relatively bitter taste. Milk chocolate contains both cocoa solids and milk solids, hence has a bitter-sweet taste.
CHOCOLATE IN BAKING-
When a recipe calls for chocolate, it is usually referring to baking chocolate. Baking chocolate, or ‘unsweetened chocolate’ is 100% chocolate and doesn’t contain any sugar or added flavour, which is why it is bitter. Baking chocolate is ideal to use as a base for brownies and cakes, since we do add sugar to the recipe, balancing the flavour. However, for recipes like chocolate chip cookies, we prefer to use chunks of dark chocolate or chocolate chips. Chocolate chips are designed such that they do not melt under heat, making them ideal for cookies.
STORING CHOCOLATE PROPERLY
I’ve often seen people store their chocolate bars in refrigerators and I cannot stress enough how incorrect that is! Moisture in the refrigerator leads to what is called a ‘sugar bloom’. Sugar in the chocolate absorbs moisture and starts to crystallise on the surface, giving the bar a grey appearance and a noticeably grainy texture. Storing at a higher temperature causes the chocolate to melt and recrystallise with fat crystals accumulating towards the surface, a situation called a ‘fat bloom’. Chocolates should always be stored between 55° and 65°F in a low moisture environment.
The cocoa butter in chocolates has a tendency to absorb neighbouring odours, so unless you want your chocolate bar to smell like garlic or cheese, it is advised to store it in air tight containers.
You should make sure your hands and work station is dry while handling chocolate, as nothing spoils good chocolate better than moisture.
CHOCOLATE BRANDS AVAILABLE IN INDIA-
- MORDE- most popular, easily available. Please only pick Morde chocolate and NOT the compound
- CALLEBAUT- finest Belgium chocolate, expensive but excellent, available at FoodHall and Modern Bazaar
- COCOACRAFT- excellent chocolate couverture, available at FoodHall stores
- REGAL CHOCOLATES- visit their facebook page to order. This is what I mostly use.