The chocolatier’s lexicon is a set of technical terms used in the chocolate industry to describe the different stages of chocolate making, as well as the different varieties and qualities of chocolate. Understanding these terms is essential to understanding the production and enjoyment of high-quality chocolate.
The history of chocolate is long and fascinating, dating back thousands of years. The origins of chocolate lie in the pre-Columbian cultures of Central and South America, where cocoa beans were used as both currency and a ceremonial drink. The Mayans and Aztecs grew cocoa for thousands of years and developed sophisticated methods for turning cocoa beans into a thick, bitter drink called “xocolatl.” This drink was consumed during religious ceremonies and was considered to have medicinal properties. The Aztecs considered cocoa a divine gift, and consumed it in large quantities. According to legend, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma drank up to 50 cups of xocolatl a day. Cocoa beans were also used as currency and were considered a form of wealth. In 1519, Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico and discovered cocoa. They quickly adopted the chocolate drink, but sweetened it to make it more palatable. The Spanish also introduced cocoa cultivation to other parts of the world, including Central and South America, the Philippines, and West Africa. By the 17th century, the chocolate drink had gained popularity in Europe, but it remained reserved for the wealthy due to its high cost. However, in the 18th century, cocoa production increased and costs decreased, allowing more people to consume chocolate. In the 19th century, chocolate became an important industry in Europe and North America. Chocolatiers began developing new varieties of chocolate, including milk chocolate, which was created in Switzerland in 1875. In the 20th century, the chocolate industry grew exponentially, with the rise of large companies such as Nestlé, Cadbury and Hershey. New products, such as chocolate bars and chocolate-covered candies, were introduced, as well as new techniques of production. Today, chocolate is one of the most popular foods in the world, with annual consumption in the millions of tons. Cocoa is grown in many tropical countries, including West Africa, Central and South America, Asia and the Caribbean.
The history of cocoa dates back more than 4,000 years. Pre-Columbian civilizations in Central and South America, such as the Mayans and Aztecs, considered cocoa a divine drink. They used it for religious ceremonies and for its medicinal properties. Cocoa beans were also used as currency and were highly prized. The Aztecs even believed that cocoa had aphrodisiac properties. When Europeans discovered cocoa in the 16th century, they were fascinated by its taste and began importing it to Europe. However, the cocoa drink was still very bitter and spicy, and it took some time to find a way to make it more palatable. In the 19th century, chocolate-making techniques were improved, notably with the invention of the cocoa press, which made it possible to extract the fat from the cocoa paste and create cocoa powder. Chocolate production then became more widespread in Europe and North America. Today, cocoa is grown in many tropical countries around the world, including Africa, Latin America and Asia. Chocolate has become a staple food in many cultures, and it is enjoyed in many different forms, from hot chocolate and chocolate bars to truffles and chocolate candies.
Ganache is traditionally made with chocolate and cream, but can also be flavored with ingredients such as spices, fruit or alcohol. The proportions of chocolate and cream may vary depending on the use of the ganache and the desired texture. To prepare a ganache, the cream is heated until it begins to boil. The mixture is then stirred until the chocolate is completely melted and the preparation is smooth and homogeneous. The ganache is then left at room temperature to cool and firm up.
Praline is a sweet preparation made from almonds or hazelnuts and cooked sugar, which is ground until a smooth paste is obtained. This paste can then be used to flavor and texture various confectionery products, such as chocolates, ice creams, pastries and candies. To make praline, hazelnuts or almonds are first toasted to develop their aroma. Next, sugar is melted in a saucepan until it reaches a light brown caramel. The toasted hazelnuts or almonds are then added to the hot caramel, stirred to coat them with caramel, then spread out on parchment paper to cool. Once cooled, the mixture of caramelized hazelnuts or almonds is ground into a smooth paste, usually using a food processor or nut grinder. This paste can then be used as is or mixed with melted chocolate to create chocolate praline. Praline is a basic ingredient in many chocolate and pastry recipes, such as praline chocolates, ice creams praline, praline éclairs, praline tarts, and many more.
Chocolate coating is a technique used in chocolate making to cover chocolate centers, such as ganaches, pralines or dried fruits, with a layer of chocolate to protect them and give them a smooth, shiny finish. To coat a chocolate center, the couverture chocolate is first melted and tempered. Tempering is a technique for crystallizing cocoa butter in chocolate which ensures that the chocolate will have a smooth, shiny texture and hold up well at room temperature.
Cocoa mass, also known as cocoa mass, is a basic ingredient in chocolate production. It is made by grinding roasted cocoa beans to form a thick, dark paste. Cocoa mass contains approximately 50 to 60% cocoa butter, as well as solid cocoa particles, called “cocoa solids.” It has an intense bitter chocolate flavor and is used as a base ingredient for making chocolate, candies, ice cream, cakes and other desserts. The quality of cocoa paste can vary depending on the origin of the cocoa beans used and the processing they have undergone before being transformed into paste. Chocolatiers often look to use high-quality cocoa pastes, which have a more complex and rich flavor, to produce high-quality, full-bodied chocolates.
Cocoa butter is an important ingredient in the production of chocolate and other chocolate products. It is extracted from cocoa beans and is in solid form at room temperature. Cocoa butter is separated from cocoa solids, such as cocoa particles and cocoa mass, through a pressing process. Cocoa beans are ground to form a cocoa paste, which is then pressed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids.
Gianduja is a mixture of hazelnut paste and chocolate, which was invented in Turin, Italy, in the early 19th century. Gianduja is also used in the confectionery industry to create chocolate products such as chocolate bars, spreads and filled candies. It is particularly popular in Europe, where it is often used as an alternative to peanut butter in baking and chocolate recipes. Gianduja is loved for its smooth, creamy texture, as well as its sweet, nutty flavor. The quality of gianduja depends on the quality of the hazelnuts used, as well as the quantity and quality of the chocolate used for the mixture.