The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: Bl


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A blended chocolate bar is made with any mix of bean varieties, growing areas, and harvests. At the other end of the spectrum is the single origin bar, made entirely from beans that come from one growing area, or, even more specific, the grand cru bar, where all of the beans were grown on one plantation or estate. Blended bars are sometimes referred to as “house bars”, because they are blended to a consistent recipe repeatedly to reflect the house style of the manufacturer.


If chocolate is not single origin, it is blended. After roasting and before grinding, the crushed cocoa beans are combined in a predetermined formula to ensure the flavor of the finished chocolate. Since even beans from the same region can vary greatly in character, it takes some skill and knowledge to produce chocolate with consistent aroma and flavor. Most chocolate is blended.


Bloom affects the appearance (and possibly the quality) of chocolate, but it does not render chocolate harmful. Sugar bloom is caused by moisture coming into contact with chocolate. Most eating chocolate contains sugar; the sugar is made up of crystals, which are typically fine enough that you cannot see them or feel them on your tongue. Moisture dissolves the crystals on the surface of the chocolate, but as the moisture dries or evaporates, the dissolved sugar crystallizes and precipitates onto the surface of the chocolate, leaving a dusty appearance. Fat bloom is more complicated and may be caused by a combination of factors. These include poor tempering (or lack of tempering), improper storage conditions, or changes in temperature. Fat bloom is characterized by the chocolate turning powdery greyish-white or tan. Chocolate with fat bloom may be soft or crumbly in texture. This is caused by the fact that the fat from the cocoa bean (cocoa butter) is polymorphic, meaning that it has six crystalline shapes when it hardens. Tempering ensures that the cocoa butter crystals all are of the same type and are small and tightly packed together. When chocolate blooms, the chocolate loses its crystalline uniformity and multiple crystal types develop. The multiple crystalline forms do not pack tightly together anymore, forcing the chocolate to literally begin to fall apart and develop its characteristic white splotches.


Literally, “good good”, this term refers to a hard exterior shell of chocolate filled with any of a variety of centers. The full French term is bonbon de chocolat. In Belgium, a filled chocolate is called a praline. Unfortunately, in Germany, a praline is a confection made of caramelized sugar and nuts. This is allowed to cool, ground, and then added to chocolate. The effect is similar to that of gianduja, but with more emphasis on chocolate. In addition, in France, praliné means a sugared or caramelized almond; sometimes the accent isn’t used when the word is written in English. Adding to the confusion is the word truffle. Technically, a chocolate truffle is a ball of ganache rolled in cocoa powder or another coating so that it resembles the mushroom called “truffle”, but some people use the same word to mean a hard chocolate shell filled with ganache. All of this underscores the lack of standardized terminology in the chocolate world.


The French word for “cork”. A chocolate bouchon is a molded, cork-shaped chocolate, sometimes presented in a wrapping of very thin foil. Bouchons can be solid or filled.


Often used interchangeably with the term “artisan chocolatier”, but the two are very different. An artisan chocolatier is a person skilled in the craft of creating limited-batch, fine-quality chocolates. Some artisan chocolatiers do open boutiques, or shops, in which they sell their products. On the other hand, a boutique can be opened by anyone, and the chocolates they sell will not necessarily be of fine quality.


A term borrowed from the world of champagne, where it means a very dry ( as opposed to sweet) champagne. In chocolate, this is more a marketing term than anything else. Some chocolate manufacturers label dark chocolate bars as “brut”, which seems to mean only that the chocolate used is not particularly sweet. But with no legal definition for the word in the real of chocolate, it can mean anything the maker desires.


Comprising around 90% of the world’s cacao bean harvest, bulk beans are the workhorses of the chocolate realm. They are readily available in the large quantities necessary to supply the world’s increasing appetite for cocoa and chocolate products, and they’re relatively inexpensive. These beans, and the resulting bulk cacao/bulk cocoa manufactured from them, are used for mass-market products and production. Cocoa or chocolate products made from bulk beans will be acceptable, but they will lack the sparkle and satisfaction that come from those products made with superior-quality flavor beans.


Naturally-occurring fat in milk from which butter is made. Cocoa butter, despite its name, contains no butterfat at all; it is a purely vegetable product.


Butter oil is also called clarified butter. It is employed in some chocolate formulations as a less-expensive alternative to cocoa butter to create a smoother texture and mouthfeel.

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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