Imagine a world without chocolate! The story of chocolate is an extraordinary one. An enormous amount of work goes into the supply of the delicious chocolate we buy from our Belgian supplier. We remain ever-grateful to the generations of chocolate makers who have made it so easy for us to obtain this wonderful substance. Here, we provide a quick insight into a vital cake-making ingredient.
Making chocolate all starts with the seeds of the cacao tree. The seeds are no use raw and a lot has to be done to them before they can be used for making chocolate. They have to be fermented, then dried and cleaned. Next they are roasted. Then the shell is removed and the residual ‘nibs’ are ground to a pulp called cocoa mass. The cocoa mass contains the essential ingredients of chocolate, which are cocoa solids and cocoa butter. With the addition of some sugar, we end up with the basis for one of the world’s favourite flavours. Although the cacoa tree originated in South America, the biggest growers are now in West Africa, particularly Ivory Coast. Most of the cocoa is exported to the USA and Europe.
In Europe, the two best sources of fine quality chocolate are Switzerland and Belgium. The Swiss have tended to focus on the retail market, whilst Belgian producers, although supplying many famous retail brands, have developed a world class expertise in making high quality chocolate for bakers and caterers. All the chocolate we use is from one of Belgium’s top suppliers.
Chocolate making is a complicated process with all sorts of permutations available, but understanding the difference between the basic three types of plain, milk and white is fairly simple:
Milk chocolate, as the name suggests, is chocolate made with milk. Belgian milk chocolate has a minimum of 25% cocoa solids.
Plain chocolate (also known as dark chocolate) is made using a higher percentage of cocoa solids. It contains a minimum of 35% cocoa solids but usually well over 50% and, depending on requirement, the percentage can go up to over 90%. It doesn’t contain milk, the fat content being derived from the cocoa butter. Typically, plain chocolate still contains sugar, although there are supplies available which have no sugar at all and, unsurprisingly, they taste rather bitter.
White chocolate is the opposite to plain chocolate in that it doesn’t contain cocoa solids and is made with milk and cocoa butter. The absence of cocoa solids gives it a pale ivory colour.
Our ‘Triple Chocolate Paradise’ cake is made with finest Belgian chocolate and contains all three types, making it seriously chocolatey. Seriously yummy!!..