The Ultimate Chocolate Glossary: Pr


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A word with too many definitions. Historically, the first definition referred to whole almonds caramelized in sugar and was originally spelled praslin. These were pronounced pray-LEEN in English and prah-LEEN in French, and the name comes from French soldier and diplomat César, Comte du Plessis-Praslin, whose cook was said to have invented them in the early 17th century. Other definitions have evolved over time.

In Belgium, any filled chocolate can be referred to as a praline. 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 the American South, especially Louisiana and Texas, a praline (pronounced PRAY-leen or PRAW-leen) is a confection made by boiling together brown sugar, butter, and cream to softball stage. Pecans are beaten in, and the mixture is dropped from a spoon to form flattish, round, creamy patties, traditionally dotted liberally with pecans. Praline can also refer to praline powder, caramelized almonds or hazelnuts that are ground, then sprinkled over desserts. Emphasizing the lack of agreement in nomenclature, the French sometimes call the original praline (that is, a whole almond caramelized in sugar) a dragée (drah-ZHAY). Technically, a dragée is an almond in a hard-shell coating, what Americans call a Jordan almond. There is also praliné, sometimes called praline paste, a paste made of sugar and nuts ground together. See Bonbon.


A paste of ground sugar and nuts, praline paste or praliné (praw-lee-NAY) can be made from any type of nut (almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts are popular choices). Praline paste has been used in French patisserie since the 1500’s to make pastries and as a flavoring agent for mousse, buttercreams, and ice cream. Hazelnut praliné was invented as a sort of chocolate “extender” during a chocolate shortage in the 1800’s in Turin, Italy; the combination of this praliné and chocolate, called gianduja, remains beloved to this day.


A term used by some chocolatiers for their estate-grown chocolate. Abbreviated as 1er Cru.


An interim product in chocolate production, press cake is produced when most of the cocoa butter is removed from chocolate liquor by means of tremendous hydraulic pressure. The press cake is later ground to form cocoa powder. The cocoa pres was invented by Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, who took out a patent for it in 1828. Van Houten also invented the process of Dutching cocoa powder.


A stage of making chocolate in which chocolate liquor is run through hydraulic presses to extract most of the cocoa butter.


The most expensive category of chocolate. In the confectionery industry, chocolate is categorized according to retail price per pound. In descending order of price, the remaining categories are Gourmet, Mass Market Premium, and Mass Market.


An elementary form of chocolate, after chocolate liquor has been kneaded with sugar, vanilla, cocoa butter, and, in the case of milk chocolate, powdered milk.


Chocolate produced only with beans from one particular growing area or region. Also known as single origin 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 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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