Mystical Flavors

Chocolate. Could any one ingredient be more glorious? Doubtful. Chocolate inspires nearly everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest grandfather. You'll undoubtedly be using this most Fabulous Food often in your cooking. Here's what you need to know to get the most from the chocolate experience.

Chocolate comes in many forms: unsweetened, semisweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate and white chocolate (which technically isn't chocolate at all, but does have similarities so we'll include it here as well).


Chocolate is unique among vegetables in that its fat (cocoa butter) is solid at room temperature. Since this fat melts at mouth temperature, chocolate is an excellent flavor conductor. Cocoa powder is made by separating most of the cocoa butter out of the liquor.

Similar to coffee, cacao beans are dried and roasted before being hulled. "Chocolate liquor", made from the roasted, ground cocoa bean nibs (the meat of the cacao bean) is what makes chocolate chocolate. Thus, unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate liquor and about 50% cocoa butter. Bittersweet chocolate blends at least 35% liquor with as much as 50% with cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. Semisweet chocolate has the same ingredients as bittersweet with the addition of more sugar. Milk chocolate, which contains about 10% chocolate liquor, takes the process a step further by adding about 12% milk solids.

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar and vanilla. When buying white chocolate, look for a brand that contains cocoa butter. There are cheaper versions (which by law cannot be called chocolate) that don't contain any cocoa butter, but their flavor is inferior to those that grew and produced well.