Understanding Chocolate and Cocoa Solids
The best confectionery wholesalers have a long history of sourcing chocolates from chocolatiers all over the world. They're used to fielding questions about the role of cocoa solids in the formation, and ultimately the flavour, of chocolates.
Here are some of the more important points collated by the experts to help clarify the relationship between these nebulous solids and what, exactly, they do for chocolate in general.
Theoretically speaking, cocoa solids refer to any product derived from the cacao bean. The various Food Standards Agencies around the world, however, have differing interpretations of what they are. Most people see percentages on the labels indicative of their weight in various chocolate products and make the assumption that higher percentages lead to better taste and quality. The logic goes that the more cocoa solids in the product, the less room for other additives like sugar or dairy. The problem, however, is that two chocolate products with the same percentage of cocoa solids can end up tasting very different from one another. What, then, is really going on here?
Confectionery wholesalers point out that cocoa solids are vulnerable to misinterpretation. For example, some entities don’t consider cocoa butter as solids, yet some consider them as such for labelling purposes. Whatever interpretation is used will affect the percentage seen on the label.
It is important to note, however, that the percentage of cocoa butter is responsible for the texture and smoothness of the finished product. The cocoa powder, on the other hand, is responsible for the flavour of the chocolate itself. Different combinations of these two ingredients will yield vastly different kinds of chocolates even if the collective percentage of solids between two products is identical.
Then there is the actual quality of the ingredients. Picking the beans, roasting them, grinding them, conching them, blending the ingredients together, adding other ingredients to improve the flavour – all these play a major role in determining the final product. The skill and care implemented in the manufacturing process is important in determining the taste and texture of the chocolate at hand.
The End Point
Confectionery wholesalers make it a point to emphasise that a high percentage of cocoa solids does not always translate to a high quality product. The best wholesalers thus look not just at the label but go deeper and investigate the production process of their partners – especially those offering premium chocolates with high levels of bean solids.
This is not something the average consumer can do on their own, admittedly. Confectionery wholesalers have the knowledge and the resources to more accurately determine the quality of chocolates. The best companies will ‘curate’ their selection to ensure that only the products with great taste and sublime texture go through its doors. So it pays to do your research about who you're dealing with.
Angelina Moufftard works for HF Chocolates, high quality confectionery wholesalers to the retail trade and others who wish to purchase wholesale quantities of chocolate and confectionery. Renowned since 1957, we've sourced the best suppliers from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and UK. Our great tasting and beautifully packaged products also represent excellent value for money.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.