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ARRIBA NACIONAL – The name for a variety of forastero cacao beans cultivated in Ecuador which produce a delicate, mild-flavored cocoa, considered to be one of the world’s best. These cacao beans are grown in the upriver regions of the Guayas River in the lowland provinces of Ecuador. The word “arriba” means “up” in Spanish. Legend has it that early cocoa traders would come to Guayaquil in Ecuador looking for the best cocoa. They would ask where the best beans were found, to which the response was “arriba, arriba”, meaning “up river” from Guayaquil.

ARTISAN CHOCOLATE – This term refers to chocolate produced by small chocolate makers–artisans–who understand their craft intimately. Artisan chocolate must be made under the care and supervision of a knowledgeable chocolate maker who could be defined as an artisan. If there is no artisan at a company, then the chocolate cannot accurately be called artisanal.

CACAO – Refers to Theobroma cacao tree, and the fruits it produces, as well as their seeds. The fermented and dried cacao seeds are also often referred to as “cocoa” beans.

CHOCOLATE MAKER – This term usually refers to those companies that produce chocolate in small batches from fermented and dried cocoa beans.

CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURERS – This term usually refers to those large companies that produce a broad range of mass market and/or specialty chocolate from dried cocoa beans. Chocolate liquor – Ground up cocoa nibs, whether in molten liquid or solid block form. The term chocolate liquor has nothing to do with alcohol in any way but refers to the nibs being in the liquid state when they are ground.

CHOCOLATE OR COCOA PERCENTAGE – The percentage of chocolate liquor + cocoa butter + cocoa powder in a chocolate. A higher cocoa percentage has little bearing on the quality. For example, a 70% chocolate may range from excellent to terrible. The only specific thing that we can say about a 70% chocolate bar, with any certainty, prior to tasting it, is that it has about 30% sugar in the formulation.

CHOCOLATIER – This term usually refers to a person that uses fine chocolate produced by chocolate manufacturers/makers to create unique chocolate products and confectionery.

COATING CHOCOLATE OR CHOCOLATE – Flavored coating – Some or all of the cocoa butter is removed from the chocolate liquor and is replaced with less expensive vegetable fat of some kind to produce an inexpensive product to replace real chocolate.

COCOA BUTTER – Cocoa butter is rare among vegetable fats because it is mostly solid at room temperature, though it starts to very noticeably soften and melt at just a few degrees beneath body temperature, leading to its unique melting mouthfeel. These interesting qualities are due to the fact that cocoa butter is polymorphic, with about six, somewhat overlapping, crystallization and melting ranges. Cocoa butter is also rare in that it resists rancidity, and can be stored for much longer periods of time than most vegetable fats without spoilage. Additional uses include pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes.

COCOA BUTTER PERCENTAGE – Mass market chocolates and cocoa powders often have much lower cocoa butter percentages than fine chocolate and high-quality cocoa powders because cocoa butter is an expensive ingredient. The higher percentages of cocoa butter in fine chocolate and fine cocoa powders have a positive impact on mouthfeel and flavor.

COCOA NIBS – The broken pieces of the fermented, dried, and usually roasted, cocoa bean, after the shell–actually the thin seed coat of the cocoa bean–has been removed via a process called winnowing. Cocoa nibs may be eaten out of hand, or ground into chocolate liquor, which itself may be used for chocolate making or pressing to extract the fat of the cocoa bean, called cocoa butter.

COCOA POWDER – Once the cocoa butter has been hydraulically pressed from chocolate liquor, the remaining material is a compressed “cocoa cake.” This cocoa cake is then reground and sifted until it is a fine cocoa powder. Cocoa powder, though lower in cocoa butter than the initial chocolate liquor from which it is made, will still have from 10-22% cocoa butter content as defined by the FDA in Title 21 section 163.113. As mentioned under the term “cocoa butter percentage,” in the FCIA Glossary, more flavorful fine cocoa powder will generally have a higher cocoa butter percentage.

CONCHING – Conching is a texture and flavor improvement process carried out by any of a variety of different machines called conches or refiner-conches. The process, which generally follows refining, takes place over the course of several hours to three days or more depending upon the machine, the chocolate maker’s vision regarding chocolate flavor and texture, and the particular cacao from which the chocolate is made. It is still not well-understood what causes the significant flavor changes that occur within conched chocolate, though various food scientists throughout the 20th century have suggested that volatilization of certain flavor compounds, oxidation of others, and even the process of coating cocoa particles with cocoa butter, may play roles.

COUVERTURE – Fine couverture is made with care from fine cacao beans that are fermented and dried properly then roasted, refined and conched with concern for the overall flavor and texture of the chocolate. Couverture is generally used by chocolatiers to coat ganache or in molded chocolate bonbons, though it may also be molded into bar form, or used in cooking and baking as well.

CRYSTALLIZATION – Sugar crystals are formed during the process of cooking sugar when the particles stick together because the liquid they are mixed with is saturated to its fullest point and cannot absorb any more sugar. Whether fudge has a grainy or smooth texture is determined by controlling the sugar crystallization. If the mixture is stirred while warm, large crystals form and produce a grainy texture. If it is stirred when cool, small crystals form, resulting in a smooth texture. Sugar crystallization also occurs when moisture accumulates on the surface of chocolate and the sugar is drawn up. This condition is called sugar bloom, which is visible as white streaks and dots and grainy texture. It is not the same as chocolate bloom.

DARK CHOCOLATE – Though not all of the following ingredients are necessary in a fine dark chocolate formulation, the chocolate should not contain any ingredients beyond: cacao liquor, sugar, cacao (cocoa) butter, lecithin, and vanilla.

DIRECT TRADE – A business model where the producer deals directly with the customer. They sign a contract, they arrange the details and both parties have the chance to express their desires and come to an agreement that’s mutually beneficial. Enrobe – The process of coating candies and confections with chocolate in a specially designed machine.

FARMER – A person who cultivates land or crops or raises animals (such as livestock or fish).

FORASTERO – One of the three main types of cacao beans used to make chocolate, forastero beans originated in the upper Amazon. Forastero cacao is hearty and produces high yields, which account for approximately 90 percent of the world’s crop. Forastero cacao is widely grown in Africa, the West Indies, and Central and South America. Because its flavor is strong and bitter it is most often blended with other beans. As with the other two main types of cacao beans, forastero beans have several hybrids and varieties, many of which are named by their places of origin.

GANACHE – Ganache is made with varying proportions of chocolate and cream more chocolate than cream yields a firm ganache, whereas more cream than chocolate makes a softer more velvety mixture. Ganache has many uses… centers for truffles, fillings for cakes and tarts, and in its liquid state it is poured over cakes and pastries for a glaze. Ganache can be flavored with liqueurs and extracts, or combined with soft, beaten butter to create ganache beurre.

HEIRLOOM CACAO – Are the diamonds of cacao — cacao trees and beans endowed with a combination of historic, cultural, botanical, geographical, and most importantly flavor value. They are the foundation of the best tasting chocolate Lecithin – Lecithin, when added, is generally added during the end of the conching process. Lecithin is an emulsifier, and decreases the viscosity of chocolate. It is generally used within mass-market chocolate to allow a reduction in the amount of necessary cocoa butter for a given formulation. Some fine chocolate makers use lecithin while others do not – that is the personal choice of the chocolate maker.

MINIMALLY PROCESSED – The cacao beans pass through a minimum process as little as possible to maintain most of the original character of the beans that later will be transform into chocolate Milk chocolate – Fine milk chocolate should only contain: cacao liquor, sugar, cacao (cocoa) butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla.

NACIONAL – This cacao bean is also called arriba, the name for a variety of forastero cacao bean cultivated in Ecuador. It produces a light, delicate, and flavorful cocoa, considered to be as good as the world’s best.Nibs – The inner almond shaped seed of the cacao bean. The nibs are exposed after the outer shells of the cacao bean have been removed. Nibs are roasted, then ground to produce chocolate liquor, from which all chocolate products are made.

ORGANIC: Systems of cultivation and food production, based on principles that increase soil fertility and encourage the health of plants, animals, and people. Organic foods are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides; they are processed without irradiation, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMO’s) are not allowed in certified organic foods.

PISTOLES – Originally this French word referred to gold coins in use in European countries until the late 19th century. Now, in the world of chocolate, pistole refers to the coin shaped pieces of couverture.

PROVINCE – A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia. Ecuador is divided into 24 provinces.

ROASTING – Cocoa beans are roasted to develop the characteristic aroma and taste of chocolate. The length of the roasting process and its temperatures vary, though for those familiar with coffee roasting, cocoa roasting times and temperatures can generally be said to be significantly longer and lower. Fine chocolate manufacturers generally do not roast every origin of cocoa beans in the same way, but try to find the combination of time and temperature that best enhances a particular origin’s flavor. Conexión Chocolate has Light, medium and Dark Roasted process.

SNAP – A technical term that describes one of the characteristics of well-tempered chocolate. It should break cleanly and crisply, with a sharp snap and should not be crumbly or soft.

TEMPERING – Tempering is a process in which the temperature of the chocolate is manipulated to allow for a controlled crystallization of the cocoa butter to occur, thus allowing the cooled chocolate to have a good “snap,” glossy sheen, and proper mouthfeel. In addition to book knowledge, fine chocolatiers must develop a highly refined understanding of the tempering process through experience, because only this experience ensures that each chocolate product is perfectly tempered, even when automatic or semi-automatic tempering equipment is used.

TERROIR – The French term terroir has been used in the wine industry for ages and is also relevant when speaking of cacao. It refers to the various ways a particular place can have an impact on a given population of cacao, such as the effect of general and micro-climates in the area, soil composition, and even the unique microbiology of the growing area and fermentary.

TRINITARIO – One of the three main types of cacao beans used to make chocolate, trinitario beans are a cross between criollo and forastero beans. They are cultivated primarily in Central and South America and Indonesia. Trinitario beans produce flavorful, high-fat cocoa. Some are sweet some strongly flavored, while others have an acid edge. The particular flavor characteristics are determined by the soil where the beans are grown. As with the other two main types of cacao beans, trinitario beans have several hybrids and varieties, many of which are named by their places of origin.

VIRGIN CHOCOLATE – The cocoa beans are never heated above 42°C during the whole process of chocolate from harvest to bar. In commercial chocolate bars the cocoa beans are usually roasted at 130-400°C , meaning that many of the enzymes, anti-oxidants and nutrients are usually destroyed.

WHITE CHOCOLATE – Fine white chocolate should only contain: sugar, cacao (cocoa) butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla.

XOCOATL – The Aztec word for bitter water, a drink made from cacao beans, from which the word chocolate derives

SOURCES: Fine Chocolate Industry, Chocolate Month Club.