January 21, 2019
Chocolate: A Glossary of Terms

Chocolate: A Glossary of Terms

by Berkeley Wellness  

Cacao: Refers to either the cocoa tree or the bean. On labels, cacao or cocoa content means the total amount of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder in the chocolate, usually expressed as a percentage. Higher amounts typically indicate more intense chocolate flavor and less sugar.

Chocolate liquor: Finely ground cocoa bean nibs (centers), consisting of about half cocoa solids and half cocoa butter. Also called unsweetened chocolate, cocoa mass or cocoa liquor, it is the basis from which chocolate is made. Despite its name, it is neither liquid nor alcoholic.

Cocoa butter: The natural fat from the cocoa bean, extracted from the chocolate liquor. It is solid at room temperature but melts at mouth temperature. Manufacturers typically remove the cocoa butter, deodorize it to reduce bitterness and add it back to make chocolate. Though called “butter,” it contains no dairy or cholesterol.

Cocoa powder: Made by extracting most of the cocoa butter from the chocolate liquor and grinding what’s left into a powder. “Dutch” (versus “natural process”) cocoa has been alkalinized to neutralize the acidity and give it a milder flavor, but the process also destroys the flavonoids.

Dark chocolate (bittersweet, semi-sweet, sweet): Solid chocolate with varying amounts of cacao solids (ranging from about 45 to 85 percent, as may be listed on labels), with added cocoa butter, sugar and often flavorings (like vanilla).

Milk chocolate: A blend of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sweeteners and flavorings, plus milk solids. Cacao content is typically between 30 and 40 percent. Dark milk chocolate, a new trend, has a higher than usual cacao percentage.

Unsweetened baking chocolate: 100 percent cacao with no sugar; it’s used in cooking but can be eaten, too, if you can tolerate the bitter flavor.

White chocolate: A blend of cocoa butter, sweeteners and flavorings—with no cocoa solids and thus no flavonoids. In 2002, the U.S. Standards of Identity for chocolate were changed to allow such products to be called white chocolate if they contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter (which gives it a chocolate flavor) and meet other criteria. The percentages listed on the labels of some white chocolate refer to the percent of cocoa butter (not cacao content).