The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: D


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Chocolate Glossary: Amano's Madagascar Dark Chocolate

Amano’s Madagascar 70% Dark Chocolate Bar

Also known as sweet dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate, depending upon the ratio of chocolate liquor to sugar. Dark sweet chocolate is an eating chocolate that must contain a minimum of 15% chocolate liquor; it also contains cocoa butter and a sweetener (usually sugar). Vanilla is often added, as is lecithin, the latter as an emulsifying agent. Semisweet chocolate must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor by weight, but there is no legal definition for bittersweet chocolate in the US.


A recent addition to the chocolate world, dark milk chocolate is milk chocolate with a higher-than-usual percentage of cacao. This allows for the depth of flavor of a semisweet chocolate with the creaminess and dairy element of a milk chocolate bar.


The last stage in the creation of a bonbon or praline. A garnish is added to the exterior (usually the top). Garnishes vary widely between manufacturers; examples include patterns, piped chocolate, nuts, and candied citrus peel.



A process whereby characteristic flavors and aromas are removed from cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is injected into a jet of steam, which carries away the the odors but leaves the cocoa butter. Interestingly, the chemical composition of the cocoa butter is unchanged by this process.

Manufacturers of good-quality white chocolate deodorize the cocoa butter to be used in it.



Chocolate produced from beans grown in just one area. Also called origin chocolate and single origin chocolate.



From the French for “diamond”, this refers to diamond-shaped chocolates.



One of the four basic methods of coating a center (such as a caramel, piece of fruit, or a ganache) with chocolate. The others are enrobing, panning, and shell molding.



A system under which a chocolate manufacturer trades directly with the farmer or farmers who produce the cacao beans used by the manufacturer. One alternative is Fair Trade; the two systems differ significantly, but both are steps toward seeing that cacao farmers receive a living wage for their harvest. Typically, direct trade pays farmers significantly more money for their cacao beans than the Fair Trade system does, providing incentive for the farmers to grow better beans and engage in more environmentally-friendly, long-term sustainable agricultural practices.



Chocolate Glossary: Dragees

Almond dragees.

This term from the French, pronounced drah-ZHAY, has three meanings. An early definition was that of a sweetened, medicated lozenge. More recently, a dragée refers to a tiny round sphere of sugar, most often coated with edible gold or silver and used to embellish baked goods. Alternatively, it is an almond encapsulated in a hard-(sugar)-shell coating (most Americans know these as Jordan almonds). Sometimes, almond dragées have a chocolate coating under the sugar shell.



Chocolate Glossary: Drinking Chocolate

Hot Drinking Chocolate

Until the 1840’s, chocolate was consumed only as a beverage. With the invention of the chocolate bar, the distinction between “eating chocolate” and “drinking chocolate” (which was only cocoa powder at the time) became more important. Later in the 1800’s, the Swiss began using actual chocolate to make drinking chocolate, which is a richer beverage than hot cocoa because of the higher fat content in the chocolate, but even today the terms “drinking chocolate” (also called hot chocolate) and “hot cocoa” are often used interchangeably. Innumerable varieties of drinking chocolate are available; the chocolate can be shaved, grated, ground, or in wafers, pistoles, or tablets.



In the early 19th century, Coenraad Van Houten, a chemist in The Netherlands, treated cacao nibs with an alkaline solution before they were roasted. This process, called “Dutching” after his country of residence, neutralized some of the naturally-occurring acid and bitterness in the nibs. Dutch process cocoa is darker in color than natural cocoa, with a more mellow flavor. In addition, the miscibility (ability to blend completely with liquids) of Dutch process cocoa is improved. Because the Dutching process changes multiple characteristics of the cocoa powder, including the pH, you cannot simply substitute Dutch process cocoa for natural cocoa in a recipe and expect the same result, particularly if leavening is involved.

In recent years, there has been much discussion about Dutch process cocoa, and how the alkalinization process can be used to remove acidity and bitterness from lesser-quality beans, allowing manufacturers to use cheaper beans and still end up with an acceptable product. Some chefs and food “experts” have gone so far as to say that they won’t use Dutch process cocoa, because it isn’t as good as natural cocoa made from good-quality beans. However, others enjoy the lack of bitterness, lower acidity, and more mellow flavor of this product, as well as the deep chocolate color it lends to foods. As with any food, the only guideline here should be your personal preference. One note: if you are consuming cocoa powder for its antioxidant content, be aware that Dutch processing generally reduces the amount of phytochemicals in cocoa powder.



The process of making Dutch process cocoa.

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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