The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: A

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ABAISSE:

The French term for rolling out marzipan or gianduja.

 

ACADÉMIE FRANÇAIS DU CHOCOLAT ET DE LA CONFISERIE:

The English translation is the French Academy for Chocolate and Confectionery. Founded in 1998, this is an independent, not-for-profit institution. The Academy seeks to define products and terms relating to the tradition of chocolate in France and “encourages progress” by presenting an annual award for exceptional merit.

 

AFTERTASTE:

Tastes that remain on the palate after chocolate has been eaten. Part of the test of a good chocolate is that it should leave pleasant flavors on the palate for a minute or two after it is consumed.

 

ALKALIZATION:

Also known as “Dutching” or “Dutch processing” of cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is treated with an alkaline solution, which reduces naturally-present acids. The result is a slightly higher pH and less bitterness. Compared to nonalkalized cocoa powder, Dutch processed cocoa powder is a darker brown, with reddish undertones. The flavor is milder than that of nonalkalized cocoa powder, and Dutch processed cocoa mixes with liquids more readily. The alkalization process was invented by Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houten in 1828.

 

ALMOND PASTE:

Often confused with marzipan, but the two are not the same. Almond paste is considerably less sweet and is used most frequently as a baking ingredient, especially in frangipane filling, nut cakes, and cookies.

 

AMELONADO BEAN:

This cacao bean variety is shaped like a round melon, hence the name “amelonado”. The flavor is said to be earthy, full-bodied, and not particularly complex.

 

ANTIOXIDANT:

An antioxidant is a type of molecule capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation on animal tissue. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate can be very high in antioxidants. Although much has been made of dark chocolate and cocoa powder being “healthy” for this reason in recent years, the study of antioxidants is still in its infancy. Note that the amount of flavanols (the chief antioxidant prevalent in cocoa powder and dark chocolate) often varies significantly between different types of cocoa beans. Additionally, alkalization removes much of the flavanol content from either product. Even with reduced flavanol content from Dutch processing or roasting, however, cocoa still has significant amounts of antioxidants when compared to many other foods.

 

ARRIBA NACIONAL:

Arriba Nacional cacao beans are Ecuadorian in origin. These cacao beans are grown in the upriver regions of the Guayas River in the lowland provinces of Ecuador. The word “arriba” means “up” in Spanish. Legend has it that early cocoa traders would come to Guayaquil in Ecuador looking for the best cocoa. They would ask where the best beans were found, to which the response was “arriba, arriba”, meaning “up river” from Guayaquil. The beans are noted for a floral aroma and a particular, fine flavor profile. Further, since Ecuador is a large-scale producer of fine flavor and aroma cocoa (as distinct from lower-quality “bulk” cocoa used by many major manufacturers), a label bearing the word “Arriba” (as the beans are often abbreviated) implies that the chocolate is made from fine-quality beans from the area upriver from Guayaquil.

 

ARTISAN or ARTISANAL CHOCOLATE or CHOCOLATIER:

Some of the most misused terms in chocolate. Consumers love the phrasing, but because there is no legal definition of “artisan” or “artisanal” chocolate, anyone can use these terms to mean anything they wish. The production of true artisan chocolates involves the creative control of an artist, someone who has the freedom to make the chocolates as he or she wishes and the possibility of achieving greatness (or failure) with them. The character of artisan chocolates is not determined by focus groups or marketing research, and whether chocolates are artisan is not dependent upon batch size and the use (or lack of use) of machinery. Without this creative control, chocolates may appeal to the masses, but they’ll never have the potential to be truly magnificent and distinctive.

This glossary would not have been possible without the kind assistance of my good friend Karen Hochman who runs the website: The Nibble. Karen gave us permission to base our chocolate glossary on hers. TheNibble is one of the Internet’s greatest resources for food articles, reviews, history, and just about anything when it comes to quality food. Please, if you have a few moments, visit my friend Karen’s website and you’ll be amazed at what a valuable resource it is. Thanks for all your help Karen!

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