The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: Fo


A word with multiple definitions. Fondant can mean a chocolate-based spread for bread or crackers. More commonly, it is a creamy white filling for bonbons. This fondant is made from a base of granulated sugar and water, and it can be flavored with anything that complements the exterior chocolate shell, including extracts, essences, liqueurs, fruit, spices, etc. The “liquid” c


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 omponent of the center of a chocolate-covered cherry is actually fondant. The fondant is pliable but a solid when wrapped around the cherry; the cherry’s juice, encased in the chocolate shell, causes the fondant to become liquid. The same creamy white filling that serves as a base for bonbons can be flavored and perhaps colored, rolled out, and fitted neatly over a fine-quality cake, providing both sophisticated decoration and sealing in freshness. Finally, in France, fondant means dark or “pure” chocolate (milk chocolate is lait. When the smooth-textured chocolate so familiar today was rendered possible by the invention of the conching machine just before 1880, it was called fondant as a means of distinction from what was then the norm.



Under the classification system developed in the 1800’s, forastero cacao beans account for the vast majority of the world’s production (75% to 90%). They are often referred to as “bulk beans” and, in most cases, have become associated with mass-market, inferior quality cocoa and chocolate. Forastero trees grow in all cacao-producing regions, and the tree is more adaptable to different growing conditions than is the Criollo; Forastero trees are also hardier, more disease-resistant, and produce more heavily.

Despite the “traditional” associations of Forastero beans with inferior products, it’s important to recall that all species of cacao trees interbreed freely (chocolate author Maricel Presilla refers to the official species of Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario as “ a promiscuous trio”). Determining the precise genetic make-up of any harvest of cacao beans would be challenging at best, and it might not be possible without DNA decoding.



In too many instances, forest has been cleared so the cash crop cacao can be planted. Forest-grown cacao, however, involves the cutting of a minimal number of indigenous rainforest plants. Cacao trees are planted as an “understory” crop. This approximates cacao’s native habitat. While such an arrangement may decrease yield, it also decreases disease and pest attacks, even while preserving the biodiversity of tropical flora. In contrast to almost all traditional varieties of cocoa, CCN-51, a prolific hybrid, is not usually forest-grown. See Cabruca.



Framboise is the French word for both raspberry and raspberry liqueur. It can also refer to a bonbon with a raspberry filling, whether the filling is crème-, ganache-, or liqueur-based.



Although many people divide chocolate into Belgian, Swiss, or French “style”, there is no definitive French style. Fine-quality chocolate is made in France, of course, but equally fine chocolate is made in many other areas of the world, as well. As with any food, the chocolate you like is a question of what you grew up with and current personal preference. See Belgian or Belgian-Style Chocolate.

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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