WHAT IS CHOCOLATE?
Mmmmmm… Chocolate….Well,we all have our relationships tochocolate,as being more or less"addictive",preferring white or darkchocolate etc.However what is the history behind sucha wonderful product? how is itproduced? and what can I expect in thefuture? are some ofthe questions thatwill be discussed in this paper.
Europeans first encountered cocoaduring the expeditions to the New Worldmounted by Columbus,and later duringCortez' conquest ofthe Aztecs inMexico.At that time cocoa was a luxurybeverage with a very sour taste,completely different from cocoa as weknow it today.Since then cocoa hasundergone constant development.Itwas in the Netherlands that theextraction ofcocoa butter and cocoapowder was pioneered,by pressing thecocoa liquor,while the chocolate bar was born in Britain when additionalcocoa butter and sugar was added tothe cocoa liquor.Switzerland played itspart by refining the taste through theaddition ofmilk and the use oftheconching process.
Roughly the recipe ofchocolate isabout 1/2 sugar,1/3 fat,1/6 cocoasolids,and other ingredients.However chocolate is covered byvertical food standards in manycountries.In general these definechocolate as "products obtained fromcocoa products and sugar" with acertain minimum amount ofcocoa.Similarly milk chocolate standards ofteninvolve a minimum quantity ofcocoaand milk solids.As long as these minimum cocoa andmilk requirements are fulfilled,other food ingredientsmay be added.The use ofvegetablefat,CBE (Cocoa butter equivallent) isnormally limited to 5 percent by weightofchocolate,and in some cases (e.g.the European Union) the legislationcontains a more narrow specification of vegetable fats for chocolate.Codex Alimentarius provides for the useofup to 5 percent vegetable fat withoutrestricting the use ofraw materials or manufacturing methods.Products not marketed under thechocolate designation are notstandardised and hence themanufacturer is free to use any type andquantity offood ingredient including fat,and any content ofcocoa and milksolids.Such products are often referredto as chocolate flavoured coatings or compound coatings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAT
Fat (coming from cocoa butter,milk fatand vegetable fat) accounts for aboutone-third ofthe content ofchocolate.Thus fat is ofconsiderable importancefor the quality ofthe chocolate,as itinfluences processing conditions suchas tempering and cooling.The type of fat used also makes a great deal of difference for the consumer.It has amajor impact on the eating qualities of the end product,including meltingbehaviour,flavour release andconsistency.Finally,the choice offats inconfectionery products is crucial for their shelflife.Factors such as fat bloom andfat migration in composite products aregreatly influenced by the fat or combination offats used in the product.
The basic fat is cocoa butter ofcourse,but a range ofvegetable fats are alsowell suited for this application.Vegetable fats offer important savingson raw material costs for the chocolatemanufacturer.This can be achievedwithout affecting the properties oftheend product.Vegetable fats may also beused to modify the sensory properties of chocolate,however.As mentioned earlier,legislation in mostcountries allows the use ofup to 5percent vegetable fats in chocolate.From a technological standpoint,however,vegetable fat may be used atmuch higher levels.Such products maynot be sold under the chocolatedesignation,but can be used for example as coatings on waferproducts.
The manufacturing process of chocolate mass can be divided in threesteps mixing,refining and conching.
In the first step all dry ingredients,aremixed together with part ofthe fat in akneader or blender.
The refining normally takes place in afive-roll refiner.In this step the mixeddough is passed through a set ofrollsthat are pressed together.When thedough's course particles pass throughthe very narrow space between the rollsthey are ground to a smaller particlesize.The small particle size is neededfor a smooth consistency and goodmelt-offin the chocolate or compound.
During conching the refined ingredientswill be constantly agitated under controlled heating.This will give the finalproduct a softer and more pleasanttaste as well as better flow properties.
In order to get the liquid chocolatemass to solidify into a pleasantconsumer product different ways of crystallisation is needed.