Monday, April 23, 2007


I'm not sure what I think about the war on chocolate, which is really about what can be labelled chocolate. But I will point out that the Modesto Bee is wrong when it says that cocoa butter is an ingredient of chocolate. To set the record straight on this most beloved of foods:

To make chocolate, you take cacao beans, ferment them, dry them, roast them, and grind them. The resulting chocolate consists of small pieces of cacao bean suspended in cocoa butter. (The cocoa butter comes out of the beans during the grinding process. Think of this as analogous to making peanut butter, where you grind up peanuts and end up with small bits of peanut suspended in peanut oil.)

If you want to make chocolate candy, you mix the chocolate with other ingredients (typically sugar, powdered milk, additional fat (either cocoa butter or lecithin), and sometimes vanilla). If you want to make cocoa powder, you remove most of the cocoa butter from the chocolate. (It's not possible to remove all of the cocoa butter, but modern equipment can come close.) The result is a powder because it does not contain enough cocoa butter to bind the bits of cacao bean together. The cocoa butter which you removed can be sold to makers of chocolate candy.

In other words, cocoa power and cocoa butter aren't ingredients of chocolate because you make cocoa powder and cocoa butter out of chocolate, rather than the other way around.


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