The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: Ch


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A food product made from the processed beans (seeds) of the cacao tree. The fermented, hulled meat of the bean, the nib, is ground and processed into various forms for eating, drinking, or as an ingredient. For millenia, chocolate was only a beverage; it has only been consumed in solid form since the 1800’s. Most chocolate designed for cooking is unsweetened and unflavored, while eating chocolate is usually mixed with sugar, vanilla, lecithin (as an emulsifier), and sometimes other flavorings; milk chocolate also contains milk, typically in powder form.

The most likely scenario for the development of the word “chocolate” is that the Spanish combined the Maya word chocol, meaning “hot”, and the Aztec atl (“water”) to form chocoatl. The correct pronunciation of “tl” is “te” (“tay” in Spanish). It is suggested that the Spanish created this word instead of using the Aztec word cacahuatl, because “caca” is a vulgar Spanish word for feces. The True History of Chocolate authors, Sophie Coe and Michael Coe, surmise that the Spanish substituted the Maya chocol because they were uncomfortable with a thick, dark brown drink that began with “caca”.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed Standards of Identity for chocolate and chocolate products over time as a result of adulteration of these products, particularly early in the 20th century. Because cocoa and chocolate were expensive, it was not uncommon to “extend” both through the use of adulterants such as sawdust, ground cacao bean shells, and the like.



Chocolate bars were first created in the 1840’s. Manufacturers had sold drinking cocoas, often pressed into small “cakes”, before then, but it was not until 1847 that Arthur Fry the manager and great grandson of the founder of Joseph Fry & Company, discovered a method for combining cocoa butter and Dutched, or alkalized, cocoa powder. He added sugar and created a thick paste that he molded into bar form. This was called “eating chocolate” to distinguish it from the well-known drinking chocolate. These early bars had a rough, gritty texture. It wasn’t until 1879 that Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine, which allowed for the smooth bar texture so familiar today.


Drops of chocolate used in baking and cooking that hold their shape in the finished product. Chocolate chips are also used for snacking and decorating. They are produced from white, milk, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate. Usually, chunks are large oblongs, while chips or morsels may range in size from miniatures to supersize cookie chips, and in shape from small “kisses” to flattish rounds. Chips are made both by large-scale manufacturers and small artisan producers; they are also available in non-chocolate flavors such as butterscotch and peanut butter. It is possible to use melted chips or chunks in recipes requiring the same type of melted chocolate (semisweet, for instance), but chips and chunks contain less cocoa butter than regular chocolate, so the results might not be the same.


An alcoholic cordial with chocolate flavoring; crème de cacao is one example. These liqueurs can be enjoyed on their own or used as an ingredient in a cocktail or in baking. Not to be confused with chocolate liquor.


Contrary to the belief of many, chocolate liquor contains no alcohol. A thick, gritty, dark brown paste that liquefies when heated, chocolate liquor is produced by grinding the nibs, or meat, of the cacao bean. Chocolate liquor is roughly half cocoa butter and half cocoa solids (cocoa solids are what remains when the bean is ground and any impurities are removed). This liquor is the base for (and the chief ingredient in) all chocolate products, though technically it is not yet chocolate.


See Mexican Chocolate.


Milk with sugar and chocolate added for flavoring. The chocolate is often sold in the form of a syrup or a powdered mix. Chocolate milk is available in whole, low fat, and skim (nonfat) varieties.


A combination of chocolate and corn syrup that produces a malleable paste, somewhat akin to marzipan in consistency. The paste can be formulated with white, milk, or dark chocolate; it is rolled out thinly, cut, and shaped. The paste is used to create leaves, flowers, and other decorations for desserts. The classic “Tootsie Roll” candy is a form of chocolate modeling paste.

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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