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Chocolate 101 Guide

Posted on September 17th, 2022
National Milk Chocolate Blog

Written By Sam Henselijn

Chocolate 101, If you’re anything like us, you may sometimes wonder, “Why do I crave chocolate all the time?” Well, according to science, chocolate can actually make you happy. For real. Yes, chocolate tastes amazing, it smells good, and it feels fantastic when it melts in our mouths. But the thing is, chocolate contains chemicals, like tryptophan, that release dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, into the brain. That’s the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness and joy! Enjoy reading this chocolate 101 guide. 

Here we take a deep dive into everything chocolate, from how to work with it to how to get the best of its health benefits and more. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of how the magic happens.

What is chocolate made of? 

All chocolate starts with cacao. The beans are fermented, dried

Chocolate-coconut-sea-salt-caramels-bowl - Milk Chocolate Coconut Sea Salt Caramels

and roasted. Later, the nibs are extracted from the beans, then ground and liquefied into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. That mixture is called chocolate liquor. When you buy a chocolate bar with a specific percentage on the label, that is referring to the proportion of chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter in the product. 

How many types of chocolate are there? 

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is an indulgent, melt-in-your-mouth delight. It contains a minimum of 10 percent chocolate liquor and 12 percent milk. That’s what gives it its creamy, melty texture.

Dark Chocolate

Per the FDA, dark chocolate must contain a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor. In the United States, you’ll also find dark chocolate labeled “semisweet” or “bittersweet”. 

Unsweetened Chocolate

Unsweetened chocolate is often labeled as 

bakers’ chocolate. It’s basically chocolate without any added sugar or dairy. It’s also very bitter and not pleasant on its own, but great for baking. 

White Chocolate

White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids. Still, it does contain plenty of cocoa butter: at least 20 percent, according to the FDA. Plus at least 14 percent milk, milk solids or cream.

Blond Chocolate

Blond chocolate is basically caramelized white chocolate, or white chocolate that’s been roasted until golden. The result is a roasted caramel flavor that’s more complex than traditional white chocolate. 

Ruby Chocolate

Ruby chocolate is the new kid on the block. With a pretty pink hue, it tastes pretty fruity, despite having no added berries or coloring. Ruby chocolate is made from “ruby cacao beans,” which are found in Ecuador, Brazil and Ivory Coast. 

What’s the deal with white chocolate?

You might be wondering “is white chocolate even chocolate?” – Technically, no. White chocolate is made from sugar, cocoa butter, milk products, vanilla, and a fatty substance called lecithin. Basically, it doesn’t contain chocolate solids. So although white chocolate contains cocoa butter, it lacks the component that defines real chocolate. Nevertheless, white chocolate can be a beautiful and complex confection and still deserves a seat at the table. 

Is dark chocolate good for you?

Yes! Dark chocolate contains a multitude of health benefits. It is packed full of important minerals, including iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and phosphorus. It’s also one of the best sources of antioxidants you can find. To get the best of these benefits, choose quality stuff: dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. 

Does chocolate have caffeine?

Chocolate does contain a small amount of caffeine. Basically, the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content. Caffeine is found in cocoa solids, but not in cocoa butter. White chocolate, for example, has zero caffeine since it contains only cocoa butter and no cocoa solids.

How to melt chocolate chips

Melting chocolate can be tricky. When you heat chocolate, you have to be careful it 

stays within a certain temperature. Otherwise, it may burn or you won’t get that smooth and glossy finish.

The best way to melt chips is using a double boiler. Simply add 1 inch of water to a pot and place it over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low. Add the chocolate to a glass or metal bowl and place it on top of the pot. Gently stir the chocolate chips until melted and smooth.

How to temper chocolate

Chocolate can be temperamental to work with, so you need to know what you’re doing. One crucial step is “tempering” the chocolate. That means heating and cooling chocolate to stabilize it. That process is what gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish, keeps it from easily melting, and allows it to set up properly. 

Basically, there are two main methods for tempering chocolate. The first one is the traditional marble slab method. For this, the chocolate is worked across the surface using a palette knife until it reaches the exact right temperature. Alternatively, you can also use the seeding method. This process begins with melting ⅔ of your chocolate in a double boiler. It has to be stirred constantly until melted to a specified temperature. After the bowl is removed from the heat, you stir in the remaining chocolate to “seed” the melted chocolate.

Fun Fact: Is Red Velvet Chocolate? 

Red velvet cake is a National treasure. There’s something special about the rich red color, the delicate flavor of the cake itself and the luscious cream cheese frosting. Still, some people will say red velvet is nothing more than chocolate with red food coloring. But is this true? To cut is short, yes. Red velvet is made with buttermilk, vinegar, and you guessed it- cocoa powder. The thing is, most recipes use just a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder. This gives the cake only a slight chocolate flavor that may not even be detected. So can red velvet even be considered a chocolate cake? You be the judge. 

Chocolate Treats 

We may be partial, but to us, chocolate and nuts are the perfect pair! There’s simply no better combination. In fact, studies suggest the combo may provide nutrients with the healthy fats and antioxidants from both nuts and cacao solids. Basically, it’s a win-win. So why not take advantage of this and try some of our best-selling chocolate treats? 

Fans of white chocolate will go nuts (literally) for our white chocolate coconut almonds. More of a milk chocolate fan? Check out our milk chocolate almonds and milk chocolate cashews. They’re heavenly. Finally, if you’re looking for something a bit richer, you’ll be delighted with our dark chocolate prosecco cordials. We’ve got something for everyone!

Sam Henselijn Author’s Biography – Meet L’Orenta Nuts CEO

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L’Orenta Nuts proudly holds the SQF food safety certification, symbolizing our unwavering dedication to upholding the highest standards of food safety and quality. This certification guarantees that our products undergo rigorous scrutiny, ensuring transparency, traceability, and adherence to global food safety regulations for the utmost consumer confidence.

L’Orenta Nuts has the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating, and controlling food safety hazards. It ensures that food products are produced and handled in a manner that minimizes risks and complies with safety standards.

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L’Orenta is an FDA-approved manufacturing facility and has met the rigorous standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It demonstrates compliance with regulations, ensuring the production of safe and high-quality food products.

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