1. Cocoa trees produce pods, which is the fruit chocolate comes from. Large harvests occur by hand twice annually throughout the year.
2. Chocolate liquor is the thick paste generated when chocolate nibs, the roasted and de-shelled chocolate beans, are heated to a high temperature; it’s then separated into cocoa butter and cocoa powder.
3. The FDA has established standards to identify different kinds of chocolate.
• Milk chocolate contains cream or other dairy products and sugar, but it must contain at least 10 percent chocolate liquor;
• Dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate must contain at least 35 percent chocolate liquor;
• White chocolate contains no chocolate liquor, but instead consists of cocoa butter, sugar, dairy products, and flavorings; it must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter and no more than 55 percent sugar.
4. A machine known as an “electronic nose” evaluates the chocolate’s aroma.
5. Several tests are conducted on chocolate liquor to make sure it’s fit for human consumption and check for qualities such as moisture content, fat content, free fatty acid content, particle size, viscosity, color, and flavor.
6. Roasting the cocoa beans is an important step in chocolate processing as it eliminates pathogens (particularly salmonella).
7. There is not a one standard method of quality testing in the chocolate industry; companies around the world have their own ways of measuring chocolate quality and their own types of equipment.
*Food Technology, February 2012
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