Product Guide: chocolate

Why it takes up to three days to make a good chocolate.

The classic confectionary: chocolate.

Brown, black or white, it brings a smile to the face of young and old and provides a delectable, brittle mantle for fruit and cake. Everyone loves chocolate nowadays. But how many chocolate lovers know exactly what goes into this delicious confectionary?

Start by reading here about the ingredients that go into the various chocolate varieties, from dark to pale. We will then explain to you what constitutes high-grade chocolate, and why it takes up to three days to make it. After that you can read about the different production stages a bar of chocolate passes through before ending up on your table at home.

Definitions

Mixture matters

The composition of chocolate is precisely defined in the ‘EC directive on cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption’. In Germany, this directive is implemented by the Kakaoverordnung or Cocoa Regulation. According to that, chocolate is a product made from cocoa seeds, cocoa mass, cocoa powder, low or reduced fat cocoa powder and sucrose with or without the addition of cocoa butter.

Every chocolate variety does of course have its own set of ingredients. But common to every dark variety is that it is made up largely of cocoa mass, which means finely ground cocoa beans. Chocolate always contains cocoa butter, which is the fat obtained from cocoa beans. It is already contained in cocoa mass, but more is added, depending on the chocolate variety. Regular sugar (= sucrose) is what gives chocolate its delicious sweet taste. This sugar is medium-fine, which means its grains measure between 0.5 mm and 1.25 mm.

Only a product with this composition may be called chocolate:

  • Total cocoa solids: at least 35%
  • De-oiled cocoa solids: at least 14%
  • Cocoa butter: at least 18%

Most chocolate eaten as confectionary contains other ingredients such as dairy products, raisins, nuts and almonds. But these additives may not constitute more than 40% of the total weight. Nor may animal fats not obtained from milk be contained in chocolate.

the classic: milk chocolate

A major component of milk chocolate is milk powder. Cow milk is usually used to make chocolate, but there are varieties on the European market made of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. Fresh milk consists of around 90% water. This level has to be reduced if milk is to be used for making chocolate. That’s why the industry now uses milk powder, which has a moisture content of only 4.5 to 5%. If chocolate has to be especially creamy, then manufacturers use cream powder which can either completely replace milk powder, or be added to it.

The Cocoa Regulation stipulates the following composition for milk chocolate:

  • Total cocoa solids: at least 25%
  • Fat-free cocoa solids: at least 2.5%
  • Milk solids: at least 14%
  • Milk fat: at least 3.5%

The name of the product changes depending on the ratio of ingredients. It is called 'Sahneschokolade' (cream chocolate) if there is at least 5.5% milk fat in it, or 'Magermilchschokolade' (reduced fat milk chocolate) if the milk fat is no more than 1%.

milk chocolate – chocolate ennobled

Chocolate may only be called milk chocolate if

  • it contains at least 43% total cocoa solids and consists of at least 26% cocoa butter.
  • For milk chocolate, the cocoa mass must constitute at least 30% and the milk solids at least 18% of the total weight (milk fat at least 4.5%).

Standing out: white chocolate

White chocolate differs from other chocolate varieties not only on account of its pale colour. It is unusual in that it contains no cocoa mass. All it has in in it is the cocoa butter obtained from cocoa mass. This is mixed with milk solids and sugar. The cocoa butter must constitute at least 20% if the product is to be called ‘white chocolate’. The percentage of milk solids and milk fat in white chocolate is the same as milk chocolate. White chocolate, incidentally, has a whole day dedicated to it in Japan and is traditionally given as a gift on ‘White Day’, the 14th of March.

enrobed in chocolate

Couverture, or coating chocolate, is usually made into blocks. This is a high-grade chocolate used for pralines, fillings and coatings. This kind of chocolate has a particularly high level of cocoa butter in it – at least 31%.

Production

the cocoa bean - where it all starts

The manufacturer cleans the cocoa beans and then roasts them. Roasting them causes them to turn the familiar chocolate brown colour. The cocoa beans are then relieved of their shells and ground into cocoa mass in large mills. The cocoa butter can be pressed out of this mass if required.

mixing ingredients

The mass is put into a kneading mixer together with seasoning and flavourings. The mixer makes it into a firm, kneadable dough in 30 minutes. This chocolate mixture tastes like chocolate already but is very grainy on the tongue.

The more refined, the better

In order to make the chocolate mass smoother, it is firstly pressed through the gap between two rotating rollers. In the next stage, the chocolate mass passes through several five-roller mills in which it is cooled and ground even finer. As a rule, the smaller the grains become during the refinement process, the higher quality the chocolate. In the conching process after that, the chocolate mass is agitated constantly in a stirring machine and heated to 90 °C. During this process, which can last up to 70 hours (i.e. almost three days), the chocolate develops its familiar flavour and the cocoa butter distributes itself evenly around all the solid particles. This is what gives the chocolate mass its velvety texture.

Keep it cool

The mass then has to be cooled for the chocolate to get its typical lustre and sheen. The last stage is that it is poured into heated metal or plastic moulds. Once cooled, the chocolate bars are then pressed out of the moulds at around 10 °C. Instead of pouring the mass into moulds, it can also be used to coat filled pralines, chocolate bars or fruit.

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