ABOUT CHOCOLATE

  • Chocolate Descriptions
    Our guide to identifying the various chocolate bonbons found in L.A. Burdick assortments.

  • Cocoa Journey
    Our photo essay describing L.A. Burdick's commitment from bean to bonbon

  • Chocolate FAQs
    The most frequently asked questions about Chocolate.

  • Chocolate Glossary
    The particular language of chocolate: couverture, ganache, gianduja, tempering, winnowing - we've complied a brief but inclusive glossary of the most widely used terms.


Chocolate Glossary

BEAN STRAINS

Criollo Family: Criollo, thought to originate in Central America, possibly around Southern Mexico or Nicaragua, migrated especially to the upper Amazon. Rare and sensitive to its climate. Complex cocoa with lots of secondary flavors.
Forastero Family: Most widely spread cocoa strain worldwide. Less sensitive to climate. Higher quality strains from Ghana and Ecuador. Quality ranges from very low to complex. Sometimes bitter and astringent.
Trintarios Family: Hybrid of the other two families, with a stronger, more full bodied flavor than Criollo. The quality can be very good and complex. Plants are hearty and adaptive.

BLOOM

Fat Bloom: The cocoa butter has separated out from the chocolate due to poor tempering or incorrect temperature. It creates a hazy surface appearance, but is fine to eat.
Sugar Bloom: When condensation forms on the surface of chocolate, it combines with sugars present to create a syrup. Large sugar crystals remain on the surface of the chocolate when the moisture then evaporates.

COCOA

The cacao plant itself, as well as its raw, unprocessed product.

COCOA CONTENT

The amount of cocoa in a particular chocolate. In general, the higher the cocoa content, the more intense the chocolate flavor and the lower the amount of sugar present.

COCOA POD

The fruit of the cocoa tree also referred to as cabosses. The oval pods are irregular in shape and are harvested year round from continually flowering plants. Each pod contains 30 to 40 seeds surrounded in a white pulpy mass.

CHOCOLATE

Ground cocoa beans, sugar and sometimes vanilla.

Dark Chocolate: Chocolate that contains more than 50% chocolate liquor. It often contains added cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla and lecithin.
Milk Chocolate: Chocolate liquor to which cocoa butter, dairy, sugar, vanilla, and often lecithin have been added. Quality milk chocolate should contain a minimum of 30% chocolate liquor.
White Chocolate: Made from cocoa butter, dairy, sugar and vanilla. Lecithin is often used as an emulsifier. It does not contain chocolate liquor, but must contain at least 33% cocoa butter to be considered of good quality.

CHOCOLATE LIQUOR

The finely ground nib, or meat, of the cocoa bean.

COCOA BEANS

The source of all chocolate and cocoa. Cocoa beans are found in the pods of the cacao plant. Theobroma cacao, an evergreen, is typically grown within 20° of the equator.

COCOA BUTTER

The naturally occurring fat in cocoa beans, essential in the making of good chocolate. A bean contains a little more than 50% cocoa butter.

COCOA POWDER

The powdery substance made by pulverizing and sifting the "cake" that remains after cocoa butter is pressed from the chocolate liquor.

CONCHING

The process in which heavy rollers or rotating blades plow back and forth through the liquid chocolate, kneading it to smooth out its texture. The resulting friction and aeration removes moisture as well as acidity and provokes chemical changes that develop and round out the liquid chocolate's flavor and aroma. The amount of conching time is important, as well as precise for various taste profiles and proprietary labels. Some chocolate products are conched for days, further polishing the particulates to the finest mass.

COUVERTURE

A term used to describe high-quality chocolate – quality determined by bean quality, particle size of ground bean and amount of cocoa butter. Most confectioners agree couverture should contain at least 33% cocoa butter.

ENROBING

Enveloping or covering something with chocolate by pouring a thin coat of chocolate over it, such as a ganache interior. This is a very old method of covering hand-formed interiors; often the first step to further embellishing them with fruit, nuts, flower petals or decorative transfers on top.

FERMENTATION

The process in which naturally occurring yeasts develop in a mass of cocoa beans and pulp. The yeasts convert the sugars in the pulp allowing the pulp to break down. This creates natural enzymatic changes in the beans. Their proteins are converted to amino acids, which cause the development of the characteristic chocolate aroma and color

GANACHE

A smooth, silky mixture of chocolate and cream, or milk or butter, or a combination of the three.

GIANDUJA

A finely ground smooth mixture of nuts, chocolate and additional sugar. Traditionally made with hazelnuts and almonds.

GRINDING

Mechanical process of pulverizing the roasted cocoa bean nib to a smooth liquid known as chocolate liquor.

INTERIOR

The term used for insides or centers of confections that are commonly enrobed with chocolate.

LECITHIN

A natural product derived from the soybean that helps control flow properties in chocolate by reducing viscosity.

NIBS

The nut or meat of the cacao bean – the fundamental item from which chocolate is made. These dark, rich bits remain when the shells detach from the beans after they have been roasted.

POLISHING

A cosmetic process of cleaning the fermented and dried beans in preparation for market.

PRESS CAKE

Product that remains after most of the cocoa butter has been pressed from the chocolate liquor. Press cake is pulverized to make cocoa powder.

TEMPERING

A process of delicately heating, cooling and reheating melted chocolate so that it will solidify in a stable crystal form. Proper tempering, when followed by proper cooling, provides shine and good eating properties. The temperatures involved are between 85° and 105°, and need to be precise as different cocoa butters behave differently when they melt. A well - tempered chocolate will break cleanly, and be free of graininess.

THEOBROMA CACAO

The botanical designation for cacao. The genus name, Theobroma, is derived from the ancient Greek words for "God" (Theo) and "food" (broma), or "food of the Gods". Cacao grows in an equatorial belt that only spans 20° above and below the equator and must be both wet and warm.

TRUFFLE

An irregularly shaped, often oval confection of ganache, coated with chocolate, and usually finished with a cocoa powder exterior. Its shape mimics the black truffle.

VANILLA

The flavor derived from the cured pod of a tropical orchid. The pod is referred to as "vanilla bean".

WINNOWING

A process of de-shelling the nibs (kernels) after they have been roasted to remove the brittle skins. The beans are lightly broken, shaken and blown.