The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: P

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PALET D’OR:

From the French for “golden disk”, the palet d’or began as a regional specialty. Invented in the late 1800′s by confectioner Bernard Serady, the palet d’or was originally made of dark chocolate and filled with a coffee-flavored ganache. It was flat, irregular in shape, and garnished with a bit of gold leaf. The term has expanded to more general usage, however. Nowadays, a palet d’or might refer to any small (usually two-bite size) chocolate, filled with a rich ganache (which may or may not be coffee-flavored; some chocolatiers include toasted, ground hazelnuts in the ganache) and covered in chocolate. Dark chocolate remains the most common couverture for a palet d’or, but other types are used as well. Flecks of gold leaf are still common as a garnish.

PANNING:

One of the four basic methods of obtaining a chocolate coating for a center (the others are dipping, enrobing, and molding. Often, nuts and crystallized ginger are panned. Panning is an art; some choolatiers have special machines for it where the chocolate is sprayed or tossed onto the centers in a rotating pan or drum; cool air is sometimes blown in to harden the chocolate at the end of the process. The chocolatier must have some knowledge and practice in how to coat something with chocolate evenly and so the chocolate shell is not too thick or thin. However, it’s also possible to do a low-tech version of panning on a small scale, in which centers are coated in a pan on the stove top. Panned centers can be rolled in cocoa powder or another coating before the chocolate hardens.

PARTICLE SIZE:

The smoothness of chocolate is measured in particle size. Since the adoption of conching by chocolate manufacturers, the ideal has been to have cacao bean and sugar particles broken down to a diameter so small that they’re undetectable on the human tongue. Particle sizes are measured in microns; a micron is one one-millionth of a meter. To give you an idea of relative size, a typical human hair is between 17 and 180 microns in diameter. The tongue is sensitive enough to be able to detect particles down to approximately 20 microns in size.

Chocolate is comprised of cocoa butter as well as ground particles of cacao bean, sugar, vanilla, etc. In most chocolates, the ingredients are so finely ground that the tongue cannot detect particles. Note that if particle size is too small, the chocolate will feel sticky in the mouth; if too large, the chocolate will seem grainy or sandy. Amano’s chocolate is smoother than most, as most particles in the chocolate average about 12 microns in size.

PASTILLE:

This term has evolved so that there are now at least two meanings. Originally, a pastille was an aromatic or medicated lozenge. In 1863, Gerardus Droste decided to start a confectionery business in The Netherlands; one of the products he offered was a small, flat round of chocolate, which he called a pastille. This is the meaning most American consumers know.

PASTY:

See Thick.

PÂTE DE CACAO:

A synonym for chocolate liquor.

PÂTES DE FRUIT:

Chewy confections, usually square or rectangular in shape. Pâtes de fruit are made by boiling down fruit and sugar (often with the addition of apple pectin) until an almost jam-like consistency is reached. The highly concentrated mixture is then poured into pans, cooled, cut into small shapes, and rolled in sugar. Typically, a a sugar with large crystals that do not melt (such as sanding sugar) is used as a coating.

PATISSERIE:

The French term for pastry. The word can also refer to a shop that sells pastry, or the practice of pastry-making.

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 best 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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