Chocolate Passion, the new guide to chocolate
by Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty
editors of Chocolatier magazine.

Varieties of Chocolate
A Wiley Online Culinary Seminar with Timothy Moriarty

One of the reasons chocolate has remained such a prized foodstuff throughout the centuries since its discovery is because of the bewildering array of different kinds that are produced. Some are sweet, and some bitter, but all appeal to some chocolate lover out there, no doubt.

1. What type of chocolate works best for dipping candies? (By "type" I don't mean a brand name, but rather what general kind of chocolate.)
For molding, coating and shells in candy work, as well as for glazing, professional chocolatiers and pastry chefs use high-quality couvertures. A couverture is simply a chocolate with a relatively higher cocoa butter content (a minimum of 32%, often as much as 35%). In other words, certain companies will manufacture a semisweet chocolate AND a semisweet couverture, as well as a milk chocolate AND a milk chocolate couverture, etc. This high cocoa butter content contributes fluidity, strength and ease of handling. In most cases, these chocolates' high cocoa solid content also heightens chocolate flavor. Keep in mind, please, that for dipping candies, the chocolate must be tempered. Tempering involves the precision heating of the chocolate, letting the temperature drop and then reheating, all to very precise temperatures, in order to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals. Tempering gives chocolate its shine, which is so necessary for candy work.

2. Do you really need to use super-high-quality chocolate for cakes, mousses, and the like?
"Super" high quality chocolates? No. There are many fine, reasonably priced chocolates available in supermarkets that are excellent for cake glazes, fillings, mousses, and so on. As in most other areas of life, however, nine times out of ten there is a reason that one product is more expensive than another, and you will find that working with a quality chocolate will eliminate waste, and make the process easier and the end product more delicious. Our advice: experiment, find the chocolate you like best, and stick with it.

3. Do you have any background on the use of hazelnuts with chocolate? I've seen the two paired in a number of recipes, but wasn't sure where that pairing originated.
The combination of hazelnut and chocolate is a classic in Europe, particularly in Italy. It probably stems from the fact that Italy's Piedmont region was one of the first areas of quality cultivation of hazelnuts -- and those are still considered the best in the world by some. In fact, gianduia originates from Turin, which is in Piedmont. Gianduia (pronounced john-DOO-yuh) is a combination of roasted, pulverized hazelnuts and chocolate, usually milk chocolate, and for my money it's one of the best forms of chocolate there is. Blissful, heavenly. You can find it in many Lindt stores and Perugina stores.

4. I hadn't heard of "chocolate liquor" before -- do chocolate manufacturers use (or sell) this type of chocolate by itself? Is it harmful when eaten?
Chocolate liquor is simply the term for the pure, processed product of the cocoa bean. In other words: roughly 50% cocoa solids and 50% cocoa butter. Unsweetened chocolate (which you can buy in the grocery store) is basically chocolate liquor. There is no alcohol; the term "liquor" is used in the sense of "essence." So, unsweetened chocolate is 100% cocoa content; bittersweet chocolate is roughly 35% (the rest being sugar, lecithin, vanilla); milk chocolate contains approximately 15% chocolate liquor (the other 85% being milk solids, lecithin, vanilla). Chocolate liquor is only harmful in this sense: it is so godawful eaten by itself that it might turn you off of chocolate forever.

5. Why are Grand Cru chocolates so special? I would think it would be easier to produce chocolate from a single kind of bean, as opposed to creating a blend.
Yes, you would think that Grand Cru chocolates would be easier to produce -- and maybe they are. Some background: most chocolates are the result of four or five beans; the beans are usually from all different parts of the world -- South America, Ghana, Trinidad, wherever. Traditionally, the beans balance each other -- one might be mild, another acidic, another fruity, another earthy, and together they create the end product, the recipe. (Is it an accident that the Hershey Bar you had last week tasted exactly like the one you had when you were five? No. It's a recipe, and the beans are selected and roasted in such a way to ensure a consistent product.) Now some companies are producing Grand Cru chocolates: chocolates made from a bean from a single source, one country or region. Since this flies in the face of my understanding of how the *best* chocolates are made, my suspicion is that Grand Cru is nothing more than a gimmick by marketers to get people to notice, and to buy. The fact that some of the best companies in the world are producing these things only serves to confuse me further. I've tasted some Grand Cru chocolates, and I can detect quality, but not a dramatic difference.

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Copyright: Tish Boyle, Timothy Moriarty, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved

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