What is Chocolate Made of?

How does chocolate grow?

Chocolate comes from a tree that originates in the Venezuelan rainforests, but it was first cultivated in Mexico. The cocoa tree is officially called the Theobroma cacao. It ranges from 13 to 26 feet tall. It has shiny, dark-green leaves about ten inches long. The tree flowers and fruits all through the year. Harvest time for the cocoa fruit (where the cocoa beans come from) comes twice a year.How does chocolate grow?

The fruit pods look like red-orange and yellow footballs with deep grooves. They grow directly from the trunk, not the branches. They are about 9 inches long and contain 30 to 40 cocoa beans.what is chocolate made of? cocoa pod with seeds and cocoa

Before cocoa beans are shipped to chocolate factories, they are fermented and dried. At the factories, the beans are roasted and shelled. Then, the center of the bean, or nib, can be ground into chocolate liquor. This is the essential ingredient of chocolate.

what is chocolate made of


What is milk chocolate?

Milk chocolate is… milk and chocolate. Milk chocolate is broader than drugstore candy bars, which may have a lot of fillers. At its finest, milk chocolate is simply milk powder added to cocoa liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter. The quality of each of those ingredients determine the overall quality of the product. The ratio also matters. That grocery store chocolate bar you grew up on only contained about 10-15% cocoa solids (and high sugar). Your average, real milk chocolate contains 30-35% cocoa solids. Add quality cocoa butter and high milk content and you have a flavorful, rich, decadent dessert. 

What is semi-sweet chocolate (aka Bittersweet Chocolate)?

Semisweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor by weight. It is just above milk chocolate in its chocolate content.

What is dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate is traditionally just a term to describe chocolate that is bitter and higher in proportions or cacao. It should contain at least 50% cocoa solids, or liquor.

What comes from a cocoa bean?

A cocoa bean is not a bean (meaning legume) at all. It is the seed of the cocoa tree fruit. Cocoa trees grow in West Africa, South America, and Asia—all within 20 degrees north and south of the equator.

Cocoa beans are the seeds of the cocoa tree fruit.

Cocoa bean nibs are the center of the cocoa bean. The nibs are removed after the seeds (or beans) are fermented, dried, roasted, and shelled. Then, the nibs are extracted and ground into a thick paste, or chocolate liquor.

Chocolate liquor is the paste that comes from ground cocoa bean nibs. This is the most defining ingredient in chocolate. When this is pressed, it releases cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

Cocoa butter is the flavorless, rich fat from the cocoa beans. It is released from the chocolate liquor, or paste, when pressed. This is full of rich, heart-friendly fats and gives chocolate its creamy texture.

What is chocolate made of? What is cocoa? And what do chocolate percentages mean? Cocoa powder is the second product from pressing chocolate liquor, along with cocoa butter. This creates the solids often mixed into consumer chocolate. It is made by separating out much of the cocoa butter, then grinding the raw, remaining liquor into a powder. Natural cocoa has an intense bitterness. Some cocoa powder is alkalized, or “dutched”, to neutralize the acidity. This makes it milder and smoother in flavor.

Unsweetened chocolate, or baking chocolate, has no added sugar. It contains between 50 and 60% cocoa butter.

Don’t be fooled by chocolate percentages

That percentage on the front of fancy chocolate packages can be a gimmick. What the percentage actually measures is not “purity” or “quality” but how much of the product comes from cocoa beans. That doesn’t reveal what proportion of that is chocolate liquor or cocoa butter. The percentage tells you more about how much of it isn’t merely sugar. So, if it’s 60% chocolate, it’s really 40% sugar and other secondary products.

Ultimately, what makes the best chocolate is what tastes best to you.  


what is chocolate made of?

Our chocolate makers take the best care making chocolate. We love what we do. We hope you do, too. 

How is chocolate made? With love. (And quality ingredients!)