In my last blog post, we talked a bit about dark chocolate and how we love everything chocolate. This time, we’ll walk through the different types of chocolate and storing this delicious treat.
What is the difference between dark chocolate, milk chocolate and baking chocolate? Well, there are definitely differences and your taste buds will know it. Let’s start at the beginning, with the difference between two similar-sounding words related closely to chocolate: cacao and cocoa.
Cacao refers to the bean, as a raw product and the source of the chocolate liquor we talked about in the last post. Cocoa refers to roasted beans and the process products made from them. Cocoa powder, for example, is produced by removing part of the cocoa butter (the fats in cocoa) from beans and grinding the remainder into a bitter-tasting powder.
Now that we have the basics, what is the difference between bittersweet/semi-sweet chocolate, baking chocolate and milk chocolate?
- Baking chocolate or unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate, meaning that there is no added sugar or milk, and is very bitter.
- Bittersweet and semi-sweet are dark chocolates. Each contain at least 35 percent of cocoa liquor, with the main difference between the two being the amount of sugar and cocoa butter in each.
- Sweet chocolate is also a dark chocolate, and contains at least 15 percent of the chocolate liquor plus the cocoa butter and sugar. On the label for this dark chocolate, you will find 60 percent cacao and higher. Remember the higher the cacao level, the more bitter the chocolate.
- Milk chocolate is a combination of at least 10 percent chocolate liquor plus cocoa butter, sugar and at least 12 percent milk or cream. The label for milk chocolate will usually note about 35 percent cacao.
So, if you’re like me, you’ve more than once opened your box of chocolates to savor a “few” pieces. But, restraint took hold (eventually). Now, how do you store the box so that the next time you open it up for a treat it will taste just like the first time?
Keep your chocolate in a cool, dry place, and preferably around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity. Also, make sure to store it in a sealed container to keep it from absorbing other flavors.
You also can freeze chocolate for up to a year. If you do decide to freeze your chocolate, first place it in your refrigerator for about a day so it cools slowly. Then, wrap it generously with some plastic wrap and place it in an airtight, sealed freezer bag. And don’t forget to include a label with the date you placed it into the freezer.
Know that freezing chocolate for more than a year compromises the appearance and texture of the chocolate. This is because when chocolate is cold and not sealed properly, it will bloom, meaning that crystallization occurs as a result of the sugar and fat content forming crystals on the exterior of the chocolate. That bloom makes the surface of the chocolate appear gray and gritty.
When you are ready to thaw the chocolate, keep the chocolate in the freezer bag intact, place it back into the refrigerator for 24 hours, and then let it thaw naturally on your counter at room temperature.
And with that, it’s time to enjoy the flavor and texture of chocolate… saving some for later, of course.
Happy World Chocolate Day!