What’s Really in My Chocolate? The Non-Essentials
Our latest blog saw us talk about the essential ingredients of chocolate! Additionally, about the new laws that have come into place and how ingredients will look on our packets from now on! But first, shall we just have a quick recap?
Okay, so to super sum up, we learned that the main ingredients required in chocolate are cocoa either on its own or with sugar (to make dark chocolate). There is also cocoa butter that can be found in both dark and milk chocolates. Additionally, we learned that milk chocolate has a minimum of three ingredients, of course including milk to the standard sugar and cocoa! However, on the other hand, we learned that white chocolate has zero cocoa beans but has cocoa butter instead, along with the milk and sugar.
In this blog post, we are going to focus on the more debated ingredients of chocolate that can be taken or left to still make chocolate that is still classed as chocolate.
First on our non-essential list is Emulsifier. Emusifi-whaaaaa? I know I thought the same when I first heard of it! This is actually a very commonly found ingredient in chocolate. Not classed as an essential ingredient however highly debated in the chocolate world. Many chocolatiers believe that the benefits of an emulsifier are highly required. Such benefits of using an emulsifier include allowing chocolate to withstand the heat a lot better (as chocolate makers in the height of summer right now we know all too well how important this can be)! It also helps stop chocolate blooming (when it gets a strange white coating on the outside). An emulsifier is also very popular with larger manufacturers as it helps save some pennies as it is a lot cheaper than our yummy cocoa!
Our second non-essential item on our list is vanilla. Vanilla is a very popular ingredient that is often added to give a sweeter taste to white and milk chocolate. However, some chocolate enthusiasts give it a bad name for it being too overpowering and is used to mask some less tasty flavours. On occasion, it can be added lightly with an expert hand to give complementing flavours but defiantly watch out for any cheap vanilla choccy!
Next, we have added flavourings, much like vanilla, these are added in to give the chocolate a different or additional flavour. However, once again there are already so many flavours to unleash from the cocoa bean many do find these to be slightly unnecessary. Additionally, many of these flavours have names as long as the alphabet and are pronounced like they are from Mars. The only benefit to using a lot of these is that they are easy to source and you save some pretty pennies on the way! Furthermore, many chocolate makers add all sorts of additions and inclusions into their chocolate. These are usually anything from nibs of cocoa to small pieces of freeze-dried fruit!
Finally, we have palm oil. The not so yummy but cheaper replacement to cocoa butter. This is often disguised in the ingredients list as vegetable oil or shea butter. Palm oil often makes the quality of the chocolate goes down, often when you melt this type of chocolate down it becomes very grainy and separates.
The majority of us would be shocked if we realized that our yoghurt let’s say, had more sugar in than dairy or if there were loads of hidden ingredients inside, so why is it that we accept it with chocolate? Ever since we were little chocolate has always had such a dominating presence in the food market and these things have just become accepted over the long year’s chocolate has been around!
So, just be careful next time you buy your special ‘craft’ or ‘bean to bar’ choccy because most the time these are just marketing phrases looking to blind you from the truth.