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Chocolate

Also indexed as: Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate

Illustration

Preparation, uses, and tips

Cocoa and chocolate are used primarily in desserts (cakes, cookies, puddings, ice cream, mousses, tarts) and candies. However, in Spanish and Mexican cuisine, chocolate is used to flavor sauces for seafood and poultry.

Cocoa and chocolate are, in most instances, easy to use in cooking and baking. However, when melting chocolate, be sure to keep its temperature under 120°F (49°C), because overheating will alter its flavor. In addition, to avoid clumping, don’t let the melting chocolate come into contact with water. For best results when melting chocolate, break it into small pieces and heat it gently in an uncovered double boiler, stirring constantly.

Buying and storing tips

High-quality chocolate contains a high percentage of cocoa solids. It is brown or dark brown in color, and is glossy. Avoid purchasing chocolate that has a grayish tone, white spots on the surface, or small holes.

Wrapped tightly and protected from humidity and temperature variations, chocolate will keep for several months. It is best stored at room temperature (approximately 65°F, or 18°C). It can also be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer, but doing so may cause a whitish film to appear on the chocolate’s surface, due to the resurfacing of cocoa butter. Although this does not alter the flavor of the chocolate, it adversely affects its appearance.

Varieties

Chocolate products are available in great variety.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder is either alkalized or nonalkalized. Alkalized cocoa powder contains potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, or magnesium, all of which neutralize the naturally occurring acids and make the powder easier to dissolve in liquids. Cocoa powder may also contain added starch (e.g., corn starch) to keep it from caking during storage. Unsweetened cocoa powder is used primarily in baking. Sweetened cocoa powder is often mixed with hot milk or water to produce “hot chocolate” or “hot cocoa.”

Unsweetened chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate contains up to 75 percent cocoa solids, and no added sugar or milk products. It is used primarily for baking, because although it has a chocolate flavor, it is too bitter to eat on its own.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is also known as “bittersweet” or “semisweet” chocolate. It contains a high percentage (up to 75%) of cocoa solids, and little (or no) added sugar. Semisweet chocolate has a rich, intense flavor, and is found in candies and the chocolate morsels (chips) used in baking.

Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate contains powdered or condensed milk; it is a sweet, mild-flavored type of chocolate. It contains approximately 20 percent cocoa solids. Many candy bars are made with milk chocolate.

Baking chocolate

Both semisweet and unsweetened baking chocolates are available. Baking chocolate is sold in one-ounce (28-gram) squares, which are convenient for use in recipes.

Couverture

Couverture is a high-quality chocolate used in making specialty candies and truffles. It contains a high percentage of cocoa solids, which gives it a high gloss.

White chocolate

White chocolate is not really chocolate, since it is not made from cocoa beans. However, it is made from cocoa butter to which milk, sugar, and vanilla extract have been added, and it is similar to chocolate in texture. White chocolate is very sweet.

Nutrition Highlights

Chocolate, 1 bar (sweet, candy) (1.45 oz.) (41g)
Calories: 207
Protein: 1.6g
Carbohydrate: 24.4g
Total Fat: 14g
Fiber: 2.2g
*Good source of: Magnesium (46mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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