With seasoned chocolatier Chef Harpawan Singh Kapoor as he puts together the delicious world of chocolates – and its many formats.
By Madhulika Dash; Stock Images and Fabelle Exquisite Chocolate
Let’s face it; when it comes to chocolate, while the appeal is exactly the same for most of us, the product however, could be different as chalk and cheese. If you have grown on a healthy dose of commercial bars in the Indian market, the term chocolate means this sweet treat that makes every thing seems delightfully better; if your introduction to the wonder ingredient has been through Bean to Bar artisanal places then it would go on from rich ganache to wafer thin bon bon and the delicious truffle that dazzles with its sweet bitter notes. What really is chocolate? Technically it is a bean from the Theobroma cacao tree and looks akin to that of a roasted coffee bean that has different key notes, bitter being slightly prominent with a good dose of cocoa butter, the fat that gives chocolate that velvety flavour and chocolate liquor, or ground cocoa beans. Extracting much of these takes the handiwork of a good roaster and the skills of a chocolatier who would then work to extracting these notes and then blending it with an array of carefully sought raw ingredients to create that perfect mood-altering bite, we call chocolate. But that says, Chef Harpawan Singh Kapoor (Executive Chef & Head Of Product Development, Speciality Food, ITC Limited) just the tip of the iceberg of the chocolate world that is as wondorous as that of coffee, pepper or even chillies. So where is the place to start understanding chocolate? First with its types, says Chef Kapoor who has previously helmed the R&D unit of Fabelle – one of India’s homegrown luxury brand from ITC.
THE TYPES OF BASIC CHOCOLATE
The segmentation of chocolate is purely on the ratio of cocoa butter to the chocolate liquor and the percentage of sugar, milk solids, and other ingredients used in making the chocolate. Broadly, chocolate – the slabs that most chocolatiers work with – is classified into the following:
MILK CHOCOLATE: The most popular chocolate, it only ten to 30 percent cacao mixed with sugar and milk (either condensed milk or milk solids). Tastewise, it is much, much sweeter than dark or bittersweet chocolate, and almost mimics Vanilla. Appearance-wise, is often light with an identifiable chocolate taste though not so prominent. Composition-wise, it contains a minimum 20 percent cocoa butter, a maximum of 55 percent sugar, and about 15 percent milk solids.
DARK CHOCOLATE: This is the one that bakers and chocolatier love to use. Composition-wise, it contains chocolate liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter with lecithin as an emulsifier and vanilla for flavour. The percentage of cocoa here is between 30-80 percent, and thus is often referred to as bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.
RUBY CHOCOLATE First formulated in China in 2017, this is the newest variant of chocolate that has gained popularity both among chocolate makers, bakers and patrons partly thanks to the ruby red colour and the other because of its cocoa beans that are naturally found in Ecuador, Brazil. Tastewise, it is an interesting blend of white chocolate and berries, and that is what adds to the excitement of this chocolate where there is no berries involved.
BY PRODUCTS OF CHOCOLATE MAKING
COCOA POWDER: It is all cocoa and that is what gives the powder its distinctive bitter taste. The absence of cocoa butter not only gives it that long shelf life, but the ability to incorporate with other ingredients and lend them that rich chocolatey mouthfeel. One of the reasons that cocoa powder is preferred by bakers and barista.
COCOA BUTTER: It is a type of vegetable fat that is extracted from the cocoa beans through the process of fermenting, drying, roasting, and then pressing them to get the creamy butter out.
FORMATS OF CHOCOLATE
COUVERTURE CHOCOLATE In the category of base chocolate available to work, this this considered to be the higher quality of chocolate thanks to the percentage of cocoa butter than other chocolate in relation to the other ingredients. A usual count is minimum of 35% cocoa solids and 31% cocoa butter. The chocolate owes its smooth finish to finer grind of the beans.
COMPOUND CHOCOLATE is cocoa powder plus oil (usually palm kernel or soybean). A composition that makes it easier to work but needs a little more fat to get the finish of the Couverture variety. For the maximum number of years, this was the chocolate that was available mostly in Indian market.
CHOCOLATE FOR RETAIL
CHOCOLATE BARS : The most familiar of all the retail chocolate formats, this is a chocolate made with layering and is perhaps the most versatile format popular among chocolatier to create new pairings and textures. The variety of chocolate bars range from plain bars , soft centre bars , bars with hidden inclusions like the Fruit & Nut and Rice Crispies and of course the one with visible inclusions and the chocolate wafer sandwiches like those popularised by Kit Kat and Perk.
PANNED CHOCOLATES (NUTTIES) : An original, artisan method of chocolate coating with fruit and nuts (or a centre), panning is one of the oldest skill of chocolate making. Here the chocolate is slowly poured over centres in a tumbling coating pan, where the speed of the pan’s circulation and the viscoscity of the chocolate is what gives the chocolate its unique appeal. This is how chocolates with a sweet inclusion in the center is made.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES Appearance-wise, they look like these mushroom-like fungus and may have been the reason how these hand-rolled beauties got their name too. The main ingredient in this format superior quality chocolate aside is heavy cream that gives the ganache within its luxurious feel.
CHOCOLATE PRALINES: This in the Chocolate parlance refers to an almond or hazelnut coated confectionery with caramelized sugar, except for in Belgium, where a “praline” is defined by a chocolate candy with a filling.
CHOCOLATE BONBONS : Essentially moulded chocolates with a non-chocolate center that ranges from nougat, buttercream, ice cream, coconut and caramel. The word bonbon in French means “good” – and the chocolate creation is the personification of that word.
CHOCOLATE GANACHE It is the word that made chocolate luxurious. In appearance, it is this decadent, creamy chocolate mixture used especially as a filling or frosting.
HOT CHOCOLATE: The first of the chocolate creation that dates to the Aztec era, a good hot chocolate is made with cocoa powder or chocolate liquor with a dash of cocoa butter for the creamy, palate coating, homey taste.
CHOCOLATE FONDANT It is "Lava Cake" – which is a dense, rich and luxuriant chocolate cake with a hot melted chocolate in the middle. Created by Michelin star chef Michel Bras in 1981, Chocolate Fondant or Fondant au Chocolat means "melted chocolate" encased within a rich cake.