Chocolate Glossary

Chocolate Glossary

CACAO (Ca-cow) Name given to the tree and the bean formed within its fruit, the pod, from which chocolate is made. It is commonly referred to as cacao in Europe, outside of the UK, and in the US.

CACAO BEAN The part of the cacao tree, found inside its pods, which is used to make chocolate.

CACAO BUTTER The natural vegetable fat within a cocoa bean. The butter is extracted by grinding and pressing the bean. Cocoa butter melts at body temperature, giving chocolate its famously sensuous texture. About 50% of a bean is made up of cocoa butter. It is available at specialist stores and online.

CACAO ESTATE A dedicated area specialising in the growing of fine cacao, typically found in the Caribbean and Central or South America. Hotel Chocolat’s own Rabot Estate is in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

CACAO POD The fruit of the cacao tree, which usually contains 20-40 cacao beans.

CHOCOLATIER (shok-o-LAT-ee-yay) A specialist who creates cacao and chocolate recipes.

COCOA The more familiar term in the UK for the tree and its harvest. Our farmers in Saint Lucia also tend to refer to their crops as cocoa rather than cacao. We also use cocoa to refer to the bean once roasting is complete and the processing begins.

COCOA BUTTER The fat which is contained within cocoa beans and cocoa mass, and which gives chocolate its luxurious mouthfeel. Also used to make lipstick nice and soft.

COCOA MASS The finely ground paste of roasted cacoa beans, a very dark brown, half–fluid mass with an amazing aroma. It is the cocoa butter within it which makes it fluid and the cocoa powder within, which gives it the colour, taste and aroma.

COCOA NIBS The small crunchy part at the heart of the roasted cocoa bean, each one consists of about 50% cocoa butter and 50% cocoa powder. Since they are half cocoa butter, they melt in your mouth after a few chews. Where all the taste is.

COCOA POWDER The dark brown part of a cocoa bean - what remains when the butter has been pressed out. The powder is separated from the bean through grinding and pressing, and has all of cocoa’s flavour and antioxidants. Make sure to avoid ‘Dutched’ or alkalized powdered cocoa. Alkalising is a process that darkens the colour and smooths the flavour, often to hide the use of poor quality ingredients. Alkalising also destroys 60-90% of the antioxidants present in chocolate.

COCOA SOLIDS The total amount of cocoa in chocolate, usually expressed as a percentage. Hotel Chocolat’s recipes always contain a higher than normal cocoa solid content to keep the sugar down and allow the flavour of the cacao to really shine through.

COCOA SHELL The loose covering over the bean, winnowed away after roasting and usually discarded. They’re full of flavour and can be used as an ingredient or for infusions. We use them to make our Cocoa Gin, Cocoa Beer and Cocoa Tea Infusions.

COCOA TEA A traditional energizing drink from the West Indies. Made by melting mashed up roasted cocoa beans into milk. As served in our Cocoa Bar Cafés.

CONCHING A mechanical kneading process which improves the texture and taste of chocolate by driving out astringency. Conching time is the amount of hours the chocolate spends in this process and can vary from 12 hours to 120 hours.

COUVERTURE The basic chocolate product, in large solid blocks, or in liquid form, which a chocolatier transforms into moulded bars or filled chocolate recipes.

CRIOLLO One of the most celebrated fine cocoa varieties, renowned for its delicate flavours, and also the most susceptible to disease and one of the hardest to farm successfully. The name is derived from the Spanish for ‘native’, dating back to when the Spanish first arrived in Central America. The beans produced on Hotel Chocolat’s Rabot Estate are criollo-rich Trinitario.

ENGAGED ETHICS The name that Hotel Chocolat gives to its “roll-up-the-sleeves and get-involved” ethical programme, which provides sustainable support to cacao farmers in Ghana and Saint Lucia.

ENROBING A process by which individual chocolates are given an outer chocolate coating by being passed through a waterfall of molten chocolate.

FERMENTATION One of the most important and skillful steps of the cacao harvesting process, during which the sweet pulp from the cacao pod naturally heats up and creates a chemical change in the beans, making them less bitter and starting to taste a bit like chocolate.

FORASTERO The mainstay of the world's cacao bean crop (80%), with a robust flavour, thought to have originated in the Amazon.Most commonly associated with bulk cocoa from West Africa, although the fine cocoa from Ecuador is also a variety of Forestero. Forastero is derived from the Spanish for ‘foreigner’, as it originated from outside the Central American trading regions.

GANACHE (ga-NASH) A mixture of chocolate and cream, with a velvety smooth texture, the filling of a truffle. Allegedly created when a nineteenth century apprentice knocked some cream into a tub of chocolate. His boss called him 'un ganache' - an imbecile!

GIANDUJA (jan-DOO-ya) A blend of chocolate, very finely ground hazelnuts and sugar, typically much smoother than a praline. A silky smooth texture.

HIGH-COCOA CHOCOLATE A term used to distinguish quality chocolate. High-cocoa chocolate replaces sugar with cocoa. We define high-cocoa chocolate as: dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa, milk chocolate with a minimum of 40%, and caramel or white chocolates with 35% or more. Our Supermilk chocolate contains a minimum of 65% cocoa. The average milk chocolate on the high street contains 20-25% cocoa.

LECITHIN (from sunflower or soya) A naturally occurring plant extract that helps to smooth chocolate and let it flow more
easily. This makes it easier for the chocolatier to handle when melted.

PRALINE (PRAH-leen) A paste of crushed nuts, usually hazelnuts, caramelised sugar and chocolate.

RABOT ESTATE (RA-bo) Hotel Chocolat's 140 acre cacao estate on the island of Saint Lucia, where we are actively helping to regenerate the agricultural economy.

SINGLE COTE Harvested from a clearly defined single growing area, smaller than a whole estate, and with the same terroir conditions, e.g. the Marcial and Pépinière cotes at Rabot Estate, from which we’ve made two single-côte chocolates.

SINGLE ESTATE Cacao grown on a single, named estate, whose distinctive flavours are directly influenced by the terroir (or environment) in which it is grown. The flavours will vary from harvest to harvest and can be readily tasted in the chocolate they produce.

SINGLE ORIGIN Cacao grown in a single region or country, whose distinctive flavours are directly influenced by that terroir (or environment). These flavours will be less varied than single estate, such as the Saint Lucian Island Growers chocolate, compared to the Rabot Estate.

SUPERMILK The most comforting, creamy milk chocolate, with less sugar than a dark. Find out more here.

TEMPERING The precisely controlled heating and cooling of molten chocolate to correctly crystallize the cocoa butter within, which produces the required consistency and a smooth, glossy finish.

TERROIR (TAIR-rwah) A term taken from French that describes the environmental influences that help define the character and flavour nuances of cacao, including the geographic location, the topography, the type of soil and the climate.

TREE TO BAR The term used to describe the very small band of chocolatiers who grow cacao as well as make chocolate from the bean. Goes further than ‘Bean to Bar’.

TRINITARIO This is a fine cocoa hybrid of Criollo and Forastero, combining the excellent flavours of the first with the hardiness of the second. About 15% of the world’s crop. Trinitario was first created in Trinidad in the eighteenth century and is common in the West Indies. It’s the dominant cocoa in Saint Lucia and our Rabot Estate plantation.

TRUFFLE A filled chocolate with a soft centre, typically made with a hard shell, sometimes dusted with cocoa powder.

WINNOWING (also known as Kibbling) The process of removing the shells from roasted cacao beans, leaving the cocoa nibs which will be ground to make chocolate.