Chocolate - the Six Chocolate Types You Need to Know
'Variety is the spice of life'... this is certainly true with chocolate. An understanding of the basic types will enhance your enjoyment of it in all of its forms.
All chocolate starts with the cocoa bean. This is processed into a liquor which has two components; cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The cocoa solids gives it its distinctive flavor; the cocoa butter gives it its distinctive smooth 'mouth-feel'. So its cocoa solids for flavor and cocoa butter for feel. The different balance between these two main components gives rise to a variety of tastes and textures. Further products can be then be added to this mix, sugar, milk, fat, flavorings and additives, all in varying quantities giving a variety of differing chocolates to enjoy.
A further complication can arise because the USA (FDA) and Europe set differing standards for labeling, as for example in plain chocolate.
Unsweetened does not contain any sugar and is generally used commercially for baking and confectionery. Also known as bitter or baking chocolate.
Plain contains varying amounts of sugar and cocoa solids. Also known as Bittersweet, Semisweet, or Dark Chocolate. The European Union (EU) stipulates a 43% minimum of liquor. The USA stipulates a 35% minimum of liquor. These are minimums only and some can contain up to 70% liquor.
Milk contains milk or cream, sugar, and flavorings. The EU stipulates a 25% minimum of cocoa solids. The USA stipulates a 10% minimum of liquor.
Family Milk is the result of a compromise between the United Kingdom and its European partners. UK-style milk chocolate can still be called 'milk' in the UK, but has to be labeled 'family milk' in continental Europe. It can contain up 20% milk content. Additionally, chocolate containing up to 5% vegetable fats must be labeled 'contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter'
White is not technically a chocolate, and doesn't usually taste of it. It contains cocoa butter, but not cocoa solids (responsible for the chocolate flavor), milk, sugar and flavorings.
Couverture is rich in cocoa butter and is considered a professional-quality ingredient used by most chefs and chocolatiers.
These 'basic' types are the building blocks for the wonderful variety that chocolate-lovers worldwide consume with such energy and enjoyment.