Here is the truth: The American chocolate industry has developed and successfully marketed so many artificial brands of chocolate that the average U.S. consumer is hooked on cheap/fake chocolate, a.k.a. mockolate. The best way to avoid buying mockolate is to first understand how chocolate is made. To brush up on those facts, follow this link to my Chocolate 101 tutorial. Please note that the following information is based on U.S. food standards alone.
U.S. Classifications of Chocolate
Bittersweet Chocolate (Dark)
I especially like the above brand because it doesn’t use GMO soy for lecithin (an emulsifier that helps cacao remain stable).
For U.S. shoppers,Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet 60% Cacao Chip is decent in quality and available in most conventional supermarkets:
For US shoppers, I can also recommend Guittard’s 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips.
Some other decent brands of quality bittersweet chocolate include Theo, an organic, fair trade U.S. brand and Valrhona, a French import.
True connoisseurs, like wine aficionados, appreciate chocolate that is not only labeled by percentage of cocoa but also by the cacao’s country of origin. French chocolatier, Francois Pralus’ line of single-origin chocolates includes this Bittersweet 75% Chocolate from Indonesia, which on the packaging provides the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates where the cacao is harvested:
Semisweet Chocolate (Dark)
Semisweet Chocolate is typically intended for baking purposes and found in the chip form. At 1:2 proportions of sugar to cocoa, it has a sweeter, more neutral taste than bittersweet chocolate. Semisweet chocolate is the most popular form of baking chocolate in the U.S. because our palates have grown accustomed to higher levels of sugar.
Sweet Chocolate (Dark)
Sweet chocolate is a less common term used by U.S. standards to represent a lower quality of dark chocolate. It works fine for most purposes but has a diminished quality of taste. Hershey’s Special Dark is an example of poor quality commercial sweet chocolate, cleverly labeled.
Milk chocolate is dark chocolate with dried milk product added. It is generally less stable than dark chocolate because the high percentage of dairy interferes with cocoa butter’s ability to bond. As a result, it is softer and not as effective for molding, piping, mousses, fillings, and frostings. Some consider it, like white chocolate, a confection as opposed to a chocolate. Generally it is not taken as seriously as dark chocolate although in Europe, there are some fantastic brands including Weiss Gianduja Hazelnut Milk Chocolate with 100% pure cocoa butter, perhaps the best milk chocolate bar I have ever had the insane pleasure to taste.
I do not recommend Hershey’s Milk Chocolate:
Hershey’s provides the lowest cost products because it uses the lowest cost ingredients: GMO beet sugar, GMO soy lecithin, fake vanilla, and dairy derived from factory-penned, hormone-fed cows. Here is a startling fact: Hershey’s milk is “acidified” in a chemical process called lipolysis, which preserves milk for longer production life. Lipolysis releases a byproduct called butyric acid, which is also present in vomit and bad butter; it’s what gives Hershey’s chocolate its off taste. Yet here in the U.S., the Hershey’s brand is so rooted in the fabric of the culture that Americans have grown to expect the smack of acid in every chocolate bar. Evidently some imitation brands even add butyric acid to their formulas purely for the familiar off flavor. In that way, the Hershey company has caused the U.S. chocolate market to devolve.
White chocolate is a confection comprised of sugar, milk, cocoa butter, and flavorings. True white chocolate (below far right) contains only cocoa butter as its fat, hence the ivory hue compared to artificial white chocolate (left). I recommend Callebaut’s White Bloc, which is available at Whole Foods.
According to the FDA, white chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa butter or the product cannot be called ‘chocolate.’ Yet in the baking isle of the average American grocery store, counterfeits are more common than the real thing. Nestlé’s (U.S.) Premier White Morsels is a prime example of a popular imitation product containing 0% cocoa butter. I do not recommend this brand.
Note how the Nestlé Premier White products don’t contain the word ‘chocolate,’ because they don’t qualify. As a general rule, if it doesn’t say chocolate on the front of the label, it’s fake.
Mockolate a.k.a Artificial Chocolate or Compound Chocolate
Compound chocolate is the formal U.S. term for imitation chocolate. In addition to the Nestlé products shown above, here are some examples of popular U.S. compound chocolates that are not real chocolate:
Wilton Candy Melts (all varieties)
Merken’s Confectionery Coating (all varieties)
Always read the label. If it says hydrogenated or artificial, it’s mockolate.
• McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004.
• Gisslen, Wayne. Professional Baking, Fifth Edition. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009.
• Moskin, Julia. “Dark May Be King, but Milk Chocolate Makes a Move” The New York Times. Online. Travel. 3 Nov, 2008.
• “Dark Chocolate Chips” Cook’sIllustrated Magazine. 1 May, 2009.
• “Types of Chocolate” Wikipedia. 20 Dec., 2011
New to Wicked Goodies? Start *HERE*