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The alphabet guide

Monday 23 July 2018
The alphabet guide

The chocolate primer : advice, discovery, lexicon...



Aztecs (The)


Cocoa trees were cultivated by the Mayas as early as the year 400 and were among the Aztecs (12th-16th centuries) the most beautiful ornaments in paradise where the god Quetzalcoaatl ruled.


At the beginning of the 16th century, the conquistadors, in search of an Eldorado, discovered "brown gold" among the Aztecs. Cocoa was used in their daily lives to carry out exchanges and rituals as an offering to the nobles. Cocoa had a much higher value than in any other pre-Columbian civilization.




Called "mouthful", the chocolate candy is put in one go in the mouth.




The pod is the fruit of the cocoa tree which ripens about four to five months after flowering. Recognizable by its cucumber shape, this berry about 15 to 25 cm long and 6 to 15 cm in diameter weighing 300 to 500 g depending on the variety, produces seeds: cocoa beans. This berry grows on the whole cocoa tree, including the trunk and stands out by its red yellow colour when it reaches maturity.


Cacahualt meant cocoa among the Aztecs and xocoalt meant chocolate for the Maya.

Cacaoyer (or cacahotier)

The cocoa tree (or cocoa tree) is a low altitude tree from Mexico. It can measure up to 12 meters high and its leaves are resistant. Its flowering begins around its third year and one sees appearing a multitude of pink and white flowers. The fruits of this tree (the pods) are small berries growing as well on the branches as on the trunk. 7 months of maturation are enough so that these berries produce seeds arranged in ear: the famous cocoa beans, essential element in the manufacture of cocoa and thereafter, chocolate.


Chocolate, a term of Mesoamerican origin, is a more or less sweet food produced from cocoa beans. This is fermented, roasted and crushed to form a liquid cocoa paste from which is extracted the fat called cocoa butter. Chocolate consists of a mixture, in varying proportions, of cocoa paste, cocoa butter and sugar  to which spices, such as vanilla, or vegetable fats are optionally added. Initially consumed as a xocoatl (spicy drink) in Mexico and Central America, chocolate became more popular with the industrial revolution.  The first factory in France was founded by the chocolate maker Jules Pares in 1814, near Perpignan. In 1821, the Englishman Cadbury produced the first dark chocolate to crunch and in 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten produced the first cocoa powder.

Chocolate candy

Chocolate candy is essentially composed of chocolate. And unlike chocolate bars, it only weighs a few grams and can be enjoyed in one bite. These types of candy include pralines and coated candies. The first chocolate candy appeared at the end of the 19th century. The interior was composed of fondant. As for its external shape, it was shaped in the shape of a ball with the palms of the hand, and then coated with chocolate.

The inside of the chocolate candy varies from one recipe to another. It can be made of praline, nougatine, marzipan, candy liqueur, ganache and others. According to the prescribed rules, chocolate candy is exactly the size of a bite. It is a crunchy and perfumed coating which lets discover a tender and tasty chocolate. There are many types of chocolate candy.


Process consisting in covering the inside of a chocolate bite. They are placed on a conveyor belt which takes them under a chocolate "shower", they can also be dipped by hand or passed through a moving drum while chocolate is sprayed.


Cocoa (nahuatl cacahuatl which refers to cocoa beans) is the powder obtained after grinding the kernel of the fermented flat cocoa beans produced by the cocoa tree. After roasting and grinding the cocoa bean, we obtain this famous powder, also called cocoa powder. It is at this same stage that cocoa butter is extracted. Cocoa is used in the composition of the bases of all chocolate preparations. 95% of the world's cocoa production comes from family farming, with one to three hectares of cocoa plantations.

In France, the Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité classifies quality chocolates as follows:

  •     the chocolates of origin must be produced from cocoa from a single country
  •     the raw chocolate is made from cocoa from an identified geographical region or even from a single plantation
  •     Grand Cru chocolates characterize chocolates whose cocoa has a particular identifiable character in a unique way which justifies a high price.

There are three main varieties of cocoa grown: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario. In France, dark chocolate represents 30 percent of the chocolate consumed, whereas it is only 5 percent in the rest of the world.

Cocoa beans

Cocoa beans are the seeds of the cocoa tree, which are used to make chocolate. They are extracted from the berries, which are opened at harvest and dried. The cocoa beans are agglomerated in the centre of the pod into a mass comprising five rows corresponding to the five boxes of the egg. They have a variable shape, ovoid-aplatic and measure about 25 mm long, 15 mm wide and 8 mm thick. Fresh, they are sticky because surrounded by a white pulp. Beans contain about 50% cocoa butter fat, 5% water, 7% starch, 4% cellulose, 2% theobromine, 20% other proteins and 6% minerals.

Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter is the vegetable fat contained in cocoa beans. At room temperature, it comes in solid form, very similar to the texture of dark chocolate. During heating, it becomes a transparent and yellow liquid, its appearance is then similar to that of sunflower oil.

The melting point of cocoa butter (change from solid to liquid) is about 35°C. This temperature is almost the temperature of the human body, which explains why chocolate melts in the mouth. This is one of the unique characteristics of cocoa butter.
When the cocoa butter cools, it returns to its solid form. As it crystallizes, it contracts slightly. This important property allows the chocolate to be easily extracted from the mould when making pralines and chocolate candies.

Confectioner liqueur

The first liqueurs date from the Middle Ages. Various processes are used, such as maceration and infusion of fruits or plants added to white or non-white brandy. Liquors, whose alcoholic strength is 15 to 55°, are used in the composition of many cocktails and are also usually consumed as digestives at the end of meals. Liquors are part of spirits. Liquors with a higher sugar content (at least 250 g/L) are called "creams". In chocolate making, we call a "liqueur" a candy whose inside is composed of liqueur maintained in shape by the crystallization of sugar on the periphery, then coated with chocolate. Traditionally, liqueurs are wrapped in aluminium.


It is the least cultivated cocoa tree; its bean is the rarest and most sought-after. Gives a fine cocoa, warm and long in mouth. Criollos originate from Venezuela and are found in Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, Colombia, Trinidad, Ecuador and Cameroon. Its pod is thin, easy to split and the seeds are greasy. It now represents only 5 to 18% of world production.



Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a chocolate that contains between 43% and 100% cocoa and cocoa butter, the rest being mainly sugar.






It is one of the most cultivated cocoa trees. It is native to Central America and Mexico. It represents 80% of world production. The cocoa from which it is extracted has a strong and short bitterness. Forasteros originate from the Amazon, it is found in Brazil, Ecuador, Central America, North South America, West Africa. Pods are yellow when ripe, with shallow, smooth, rounded furrows, thin walls, not easy to open. The seeds are flattened and the fresh almonds are purple or reddish brown, almost black. These cocoa trees represent 70 to 75% of world production.




In the 19th century, the apprentice of a Parisian pastry shop spills boiling milk on a basin of chocolate bars and in front of the extent of the catastrophe, his boss calls him a "ganache" (fool); but not wanting to lose the merchandise, he mixes everything and... The ganache is a smooth mixture of chocolate and fresh cream. Sometimes milk and/or butter is added. The ganache is used to make chocolate pastries but also to fill chocolate candies. It can be flavoured by adding alcohol, spices...


The recipe for gianduia (or gianduja) comes from Italy, the Piedmont region claims the invention because of its hazelnut production.

Gianduja is a paste of chocolate and crushed hazelnuts to which are added nuts also crushed, icing sugar and some fat. The success of this recipe is judged by its smoothness it serves as filling for some candies or directly as a spread. It is also found in perfumes in some Italian ice creams.








Almonds pruned then crushed with sugar and flavoured.

Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is obtained by adding 14% milk powder or condensed milk. The cocoa content does not exceed 40% but European legislation still requires a minimum of 25% cocoa when designed. Its therapeutic virtues are not as important as those of dark chocolate, but the presence of lactic proteins seems to protect against cavities. It is not to the taste of purists.

Milk chocolate (soluble) was invented by Daniel Peter (industrialist, chocolatier, Vaud businessman, mainly known as the inventor of milk chocolate.) in 1875.




Nougatine is a mixture of sugar and crushed almonds, which is gently heated to become a caramel. Spread on a plate, then cut out, this mixture makes it possible to carry out greedy decoration patterns, as for example on a part assembled.





The first recipe was invented in the 17th century by Clément Jaluzot, the chef of the Marshal of Plessis-Praslin. The praline is, in the first place, a candy made of an almond wrapped in cooked sugar. This praline is also crushed to become the praline used in pastries. It can also be crushed and mixed with chocolate to form praline. It can be tinted and scented in various ways (for example: pink praline).


Mixture composed of caramelised sugar, almonds or hazelnuts, roasted or not, in a proportion of at least 50 % dried fruit. The fruit trapped in the caramel is cooled in slabs before being crushed in granite grinding wheels (a material that does not leave any taste). The praline paste obtained will be used to fill chocolate candies, in particular.








Cocoa variety. It represents 10 to 20% of world production, behind the forastero and in front of the criollo. It is a mixture between these two varieties. Its pods are of varied shapes and colors and its seeds are rather large.





White chocolate

White chocolate is a preparation based on cocoa butter, added sugar, milk and aroma. Although it is recognized as chocolate it is not composed of cocoa. It is used in confectionery to play on the contrast of colors, or in the form of plates.

White chocolate was first produced in Switzerland in the 1930s to use surplus cocoa butter. It was first distributed in America in 1948 with the introduction of chocolate bars that contained white chocolate and almonds.





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