Frequently Asked Questions About Chocolate

What does Amano mean?
What makes Amano’s chocolate better than others I can buy?
Why did you choose Utah to build a chocolate factory?
Do you have Oompa Loompas working for you?
Is Amano Fair Trade Certified?
Is Amano a “Belgian Style” chocolate?
How Long Do You Conche Your Chocolate?
What Do Chocolate Percentages Mean?

 

What is the difference between 'semisweet' and 'bittersweet'?
No. The best chocolate is the chocolate that you enjoy the most. These numbers are a useful way for consumers to gauge how rich the chocolate is and find what best suits their tastes. We recommend that people try a variety of chocolates with varying amounts of cocoa content to find what they like the best. These loose terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Semisweet is typically more sweet than bittersweet. This may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
What is the best way to store chocolate?
My chocolate has a funny white or gray coating on it. Is it spoiled or old?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion over the term “making chocolate.” Only about a dozen manufacturers within the United States make chocolate all the way from the bean to use in chocolate bars. Most people who say that they are “making chocolate” are actually buying their chocolate from one of these manufacturers and then molding it or otherwise making chocolate confections (candies). In Belgium, the term “Chocolatier” may be used only to refer to those who make chocolate all the way from the bean. They then have a separate term for those who make chocolate confections. We wish there were a similar delineation in the United States, because as it now is, the term “making chocolate” creates a lot of confusion.
There is a retailer that says it makes chocolate. Is it true?

This is called “bloom” and it does not spoil the chocolate in any way other than aesthetically. There are two kinds of bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom.

Fat bloom is caused by the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter breaking down and some of the cocoa butter migrating to the surface of the chocolate. This will cause a gray appearance. Chocolate that has been kept in a place that is too warm or that has temperature fluctuations will often have fat bloom. Sometimes, if the chocolate has become too hot, the cocoa butter will change its crystallized form, and the texture will change as well. This is called losing “temper.” In this case, it will still taste fine though the texture may be a bit softer.

Sugar bloom is caused by moisture coming into contact with the chocolate. Sometimes this is caused by condensation if the chocolate has been kept in a refrigerator and then brought into the open air too quickly. The condensation dissolves some of the sugar in on the surface of the chocolate; then when the moisture dries, it leaves a thin layer of sugar crystals on the surface. A simple way to test for sugar bloom is to moisten your finger and touch the chocolate. If the bloom disappears, then it is sugar bloom. If it does not, then it is fat bloom.

We have a complete article on sugar and fat bloom that explains the various forms of bloom in greater detail and includes photographs here.

What is conching?

Conching is basically a process of stirring or mixing the chocolate for an extended period of time. Conching is not very well understood and is the subject of much urban myth even within the chocolate industry. It is believed to do a number of things to the final chocolate that improve its flavor and texture:

Reduce the moisture content.
Allow volatile oils and other ingredients to evaporate
Reduce the acidity of the chocolate through the evaporation of acetic acid.
Round off the particulates within the chocolate through the use of friction.
Develop the flavor more fully by allowing the flavor components to permeate the cocoa butter more fully.
Conching was probably more important at the time it was invented than it is today because the old chocolate refiners did not always do a good job of creating a smooth chocolate. The early conches called longitudinal conches consisted of a granite roller that moved back and forth, pushing the chocolate in a trough. It is thought that one of the actions of this roller was to slowly grind the chocolate underneath it, completing the refining process. Even so, today there are many different styles of conches and conching continues to be an important part of the chocolate-manufacturing process.

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