It is very common to see the words used interchangeably and most of the international trade organizations, like the World Cocoa Foundation, use the word “cocoa.” But it is generally agreed among chocolate experts that the correct term for referring to the beans is “cacao” while the right word for the powder made from them is “cocoa.”
Cacao: pronounced Ka-Kow. Refers to the tree, its pods and the beans inside.
Cocoa: pronounced Koh-Koh. Refers to two by-products of the cacao bean – cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both are extracted from the bean when it is processed in the factory.
Understanding a Label
Often you will see packages labeled now with “% cacao.” What that refers to is the percentage of cacao bean solids present in the bar. There is an inverse relationship between the percentage of cacao in a bar and the amount of sugar. So:
• A 75% cacao bar has 25% sugar.
• A 65% cacao bar has 35% sugar.
• The higher the % cacao, the less sweet the bar and the stronger the chocolate taste.
Chocolates are a symbol of Wealth and Power to some, an Aphrodisiac to others and the Nectar of the Gods to many others. Chocolates are the world’s greatest expression of taste, tradition and love. Enjoyed by millions, they always make a statement.
Our strongest memory is our memory of smell in which we can associate a specific flavour to some good memories in our past. As a result for emotional reasons this could be the chocolate you prefer.
Cocoa Solids are the low-fat component of chocolate. When sold as an end product, it may also be called cocoa powder, cocoa, and cacao. They are made from roasted Cocoa beans. Cacao nibs are raw chocolate, pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepared to the point where all that there is left to do is process them into chocolate bars. The chocolate-making process involves grinding the cacao into a thick paste to which extra cacoa butter, sugar, milk and other flavorings are added. (depending on Milk, Dark or White Chocolate)
Nibs, on their own, taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. Nibs are a bit crunchier than coffee beans. Cacao nibs are always found in small pieces, rather than coffee bean-sized pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty and, while there are definitely some chocolate notes, they are primarily going to contribute texture and a hint of bitterness (the same as raw cocoa powder). Some beans will have a more complex flavor, but generally coffee beans will have a more interesting taste on their own.
Cocoa solids are what lends a chocolate bar its characteristic flavour and colour, while cocoa butter is what provides smoothness and a low melting point. Also, cocoa solids are what contain most of the antioxidants associated with chocolate. Health professionals recommend consuming chocolate in forms that are high in cocoa solids while low in cocoa butter, such as hot cocoa.
Cocoa Butter is the fatty component of chocolate. Cocoa Butter must be tempered to maintain gloss and coating. A Chocolatier tempers chocolate by cooling the chocolate mass below its setting point, then re-warming the chocolate. Cocoa butter, also called the obroma oil, is a pale-yellow, pure edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter has a mild chocolate flavour and aroma.
Cocoa Liquor is the melted combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, then cleaned, and then roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, (pure chocolate in its rough form.) Because this cocoa mass usually is liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mouth feel. Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, garnishing and moulding. The term “couverture chocolate” should not be confused with “compound chocolate” : these products have a lower percentage of solids, and they may also contain vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats, coconut and/or palm oil, and sometimes artificial chocolate flavoring.
“Couverture” is a term used for chocolate rich in cocoa butter. This chocolate contains a high percentage of cocoa (sometimes 85% or more) and a total fat content of 30 to 40%.
“Milk chocolate” is solid chocolate made with milk solids.
“White Chocolate” is a confection based on sugar, milk, cocoa butter without the cocoa solids. Some consider white chocolate not to even be chocolate, because of the lack of cocoa solids, sugar and vanilla.
Cocoa powder” There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder, natural cocoa, and Dutch Process Cocoa. Both are made by pulverising partially defatted chocolate liquor and removing nearly all the cocoa butter; Dutch-process cocoa is additionally processed with alkali to neutralise its natural acidity.