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Chocolate is a common ingredient in many kind of sweets. It is made from the fermented, roasted, and ground seeds of the tropical cacao tree. The substance yielded is intensely bitter. In the U.S. this substance is usually sweetened and the sweetened product is referred to as chocolate.

There are many kind of chocolate, including:

  • Unsweetened Chocolate or Baking Chocolate: chocolate with nothing added. It has a very bitter flavor so is not eaten plain, but often used in baking.
  • Dark Chocolate: chocolate without milk as an additive, sometimes called plain chocolate. The U.S. government calls this Sweet Chocolate and requires 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules Specify 35% cocoa solids.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate and Semi-sweet Chocolate: dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa liquor (bittersweet having more than semi-sweet). It has a bitter flavor and is mostly used for cooking, but can be eaten plain. The two are interchangeable in most recipes.
  • Milk Chocolate: chocolate with milk added. The U.S. government requires 10% concentration chocolate liquor. European rules specify a minimum of 25% cocoa solids.
  • White Chocolate: a confection based on cocoa butter without the cocoa solids.
  • Cocoa Powder: unsweetened chocolate with most of the cocoa butter removed and pulverized into a powder, making it more convenient for cooking since melting is not required.
  • Chocolate Chips: small chunks of chocolate, often sold in a round, flat-bottomed teardrop shape, usually 1 cm in diameter.

In traditional New World cuisine, and when it was first introduced into European culture, chocolate referred to a bitter beverage, often with Chili pepper and/or Corn added. It became popular in Europe only after these ingredients were replaced with Vanilla and Sugar to make the beverage we now know as hot chocolate.

To prevent the fatty skin that forms on hot chocolate, a defatted product known as cocoa was developed. The terms "hot cocoa" and "hot chocolate" are now often used interchangeably, but they denote a difference in the amount of cocoa butter in the beverage. Excess cocoa butter from this process is now used to make chocolate bars more durable and palatable, so that cocoa and chocolate are almost always made in tandem. As a general rule, elite cocoa makers (Hershey, Nestle) make good-but-not-excellent chocolate, and elite chocolate makers (Scharffen Berger, Ghiardelli) make good-but-not-excellent cocoa.

A further elaboration was the development of Dutch process cocoa, in which some of the acids in the chocolate liquor are neutralized to reduce its sour taste and allow more subtle flavors to come to the fore. A given amount of Dutch cocoa therefore tastes more chocolaty than the same amount of unprocessed cocoa. In the ingredients list of commercial foods, it is often listed as "cocoa processed with alkali".

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection
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