Types of Chocolate

Cacoa (aka Cacao Nibs, Raw Cacao, Roasted Cacao, Ground Cacao)

This is the cacao bean, minus the shell, and nothing else. You can buy cacao raw or roasted. Whole cacao is the whole bean, cacao nibs are crunched up pieces of bean, and ground cacao is powdered. Really the healthiest form of chocolate there is, cacao can sometimes be quite bitter.

CHOCOLATE LIQUOR (aka Chocolate Liqueur)

Formed by grinding cacao beans into a smooth, liquid paste – it is the first step. This is the basis of all types of chocolate,. Nothing is added, and it does not contain alcohol, despite the name. It naturally contains about 53% cocoa butter (fat).

UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE (aka Chocolate, Baking Chocolate, Pure Chocolate, Bitter Chocolate)

Chocolate liquor that has been allowed to cool and harden. It is used for baking and to make other types of chocolate. Many bakers prefer this type of chocolate for baking be-
cause they have more control over the flavor and sweetness.

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE (aka Semisweet Chocolate, Dark Chocolate)

Contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts. There is no technical difference between bittersweet and semisweet types of chocolate, and they are often referred to as “dark.” Today better chocolates are offered up to 70% chocolate liquor.


Contains at least 15% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts. Some people mistakenly refer to this as “bittersweet.”


Contains at least 10% chocolate liquor, plus cocoa butter and sugar in varying amounts, and at least 12% milk (milk, cream, milk powder, etc).


White chocolate is not technically one of the types of chocolate because it does not contain any chocolate liquor. It must contain at least 20% cocoa butter and 14% milk, plus sugar in varying amounts.

COCOA (aka Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened Cocoa)

Is made by slamming chocolate liquor with a hydraulic press to expel the fat, i.e. the cocoa butter. What’s left is allowed to harden, and then it is crushed into a powder. There is roughly 10-20% fat remaining in the powder. Cocoa powder is often used in low fat cooking because it retains the chocolate flavor but has much of the fat removed.

“Dutched” cocoa is formed by washing cocoa powder with an alkali solution of potassium carbonate. This darkens the color and neutralizes the acidity of the powder. Very alka-
lized cocoa is called black cocoa, which gives Oreos their unique look.

How do you know which to use in a recipe? Most American recipes use plain cocoa powder – good ol’ Hershey’s is plain cocoa. If a recipe needs Dutch cocoa, it will usually specify it. In general, regular cocoa is used in recipes with baking soda (which is alkaline), and Dutch cocoa is used in recipes with baking powder (which is acidic).

SINGLE BEAN CHOCOLATE (aka Origin Chocolate, Single Origin, Estate Chocolate, Grand Cru, Single Cru)

In Jade Mountain we are using Estate Bean Chocolate from Emerald Estate Cacao beans. In general, we’re talking about types of chocolate that are made from a single type of bean that’s grown in a specific region, or even a specific plantation. But not always. We might be talking about a bunch of types of beans all grown on the same plantation. Or a single bean from a bunch of different plantations in the same geographic region. In general, however, these types of choco-
late are of high quality.


When chocolate liquor is pressed to expel the fat and make cocoa powder, the fat expelled is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is added to chocolate liquor to make the type of chocolate we enjoy eating; it gives chocolate that smooth, meltin-your-mouth texture we love. Cocoa butter is also used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Because it melts at about 97°F, it smoothes into the skin nicely. Also, it has healing properties and is resistant to spoilage.

Posted by Emerald Chocolate

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