Gorgeous, glossy couverture is a delight for any cocoa fan — here’s our guide to the delicious chocolate
Whether you’re a cocoa connoisseur or are just feeling generally curious about chocolate, you might be keen to learn about couverture. If you’ve heard the term but aren’t quite sure how it fits into the chocolate universe, have no fear. Here’s everything you need to know about couverture…
What is couverture chocolate?
Put simply, couverture is a type of high-cocoa chocolate. Chocolatiers often favour couverture chocolate for pastries, truffles and bonbons.
So, how does couverture differ from dark chocolate, you may wonder. Well, ultimately, it has a far higher cocoa butter content and an exceedingly fine texture. You could say that couverture is ‘real chocolate’, as opposed to compound chocolate. Compound chocolate, which is what many commercial chocolate bars are made from, often contains vegetable oil in place of cocoa butter.
At Hotel Chocolat, we believe that cocoa should always be at the heart of chocolate. That’s why we ensure all our products contain plenty of rich, satisfying cocoa. In the UK, white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter to be sold. Our white chocolate contains 40% cocoa butter, giving it a smoother mouthfeel and irresistible melt.
High-quality couverture consists of the same ingredients as any other chocolate bar, just in slightly different proportions. Couverture is made up of:
- Cocoa solids: the main component of milk and dark chocolate. Cocoa solids come from the cocoa bean, which is fermented, dried, and roasted. After grinding, this becomes cocoa liquor.
- Cocoa butter: creamy cocoa butter comes from pressed cocoa beans. With a melting point of 34-38℃, it stays solid at room temperature but melts beautifully in the mouth. The more cocoa butter chocolate contains, the silkier the texture.
- Sugar: cocoa solids and butter alone can have a somewhat bitter taste. Sugar helps sweeten couverture to balance flavours. However, too much sugar can dull chocolate’s cocoa nuances, which is why the Hotel Chocolat philosophy is “more cocoa, less sugar.” We use just enough sugar to add a delicate sweetness but let the true chocolate notes shine through.
- Emulsifier (lecithin): usually derived from soya or sunflower, lecithin binds cocoa solids, sugar and milk so they stick to the cocoa butter. This emulsifier helps create a better consistency and also improves chocolate’s shelf life.
- Milk powder: this is a key ingredient in milk chocolate couverture.
What can you use it for?
When it comes to couverture, the higher percentage of cocoa butter means the chocolate can melt more quickly. This attribute makes it easier to work with, and it’s ideal for tempering to a glossy sheen — perfect for chocolate works of art that delight the eye as much as the taste buds.
Chocolatiers find that tempered couverture offers the perfect consistency for enrobing truffles, fruits and biscuits. In fact, the term ‘couverture’ comes from the french word meaning “to cover” or “to blanket.” So, when chocolatiers are looking to dip or garnish their creations, couverture is the go-to.
Couverture also works well in chocolate moulds, as you can coat the mould in a generous layer of the shiny, tempered liquid. When you turn the moulds out, you’ll have a crisp casing for filled chocolates, liqueurs and truffles. Take, for instance, our Dark Chocolate Rum Truffles — a dark truffle base laced with Saint Lucian golden rum, is sealed in a snappable 70% dark chocolate shell.
It’s worth noting that you must temper couverture after melting, or it may develop a matte appearance and chocolate bloom.
Can you use this type of chocolate for baking?
While couverture is excellent for enrobing truffles and creating beautiful chocolate sculptures, it can also work well in baking. However, because of couverture’s high cocoa butter content, it also contains a high level of fat. Therefore, it may alter your bake if you use it within a recipe.
If you’re looking to decorate your cakes and bakes, though, then couverture is a great option. It’s ideal for recipes that require a delectable chocolate flavour and glossy shine. It also offers a satisfying snap, making it ideal for chocolate shapes and for coating cake pops. The crisp outer layer will contrast with the softness of the sponge cake inside. Delicious!
Can you eat couverture as it is?
As well as decorating cakes, couverture makes for a divine chocolate eating experience. Not only is it lower in sugar than other types of chocolate, but the extra cocoa butter means it melts sensationally in the mouth.
A little goes a long way, and you’ll find that just a few bites of high-quality couverture can curb any cocoa craving. So, why not sit back, take a bite of a luxurious 70% Dark Chocolate Baton, and experience all the magic a high cocoa butter content has to offer.