Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What is Cocoa Liquor?

So, what is cocoa liquor? It’s not booze (that would be a chocolate liqueur) and it contains absolutely no alcohol. Basically, cocoa liquor is solid, unsweetened baking chocolate. Cocoa liquor begins life as a liquid, but is cooled until it’s a solid. The solid form is then cut into blocks and packaged.

So, why is it called liquor if it’s solid? The term liquor is derived from the Latin term liquere which basically refers to matter in a liquid state. Distilled alcohol (like whiskey or vodka for example) was originally referred to as spirits. This was because medieval alchemists (surprise! who saw an alchemy reference coming!) believed they were releasing the inner spirits from substances during the distillation process. The terms liquor and spirit became conflated sometime during the 16th century.

Now that you have had your science and medieval history lesson, let’s get back to cocoa liquor. When cacao pods are harvested, they are cracked open and the beans and the white pulp that fills the pods are removed. The beans and pulp are then placed in wooden boxes to ferment in the sun for 5-7 days. Then the beans are roasted and the nib is removed from the cocoa bean husk. The resulting paste (or “mass”) is then melted and pressed to separate the cocoa butter. Now you have cocoa liquor.

Cocoa liquor is the basic ingredient in chocolate. As I already mentioned, cocoa liquor on its own is what most people know as unsweetened baker’s chocolate. For sweetened chocolate, a little sugar is added to the chocolate. For milk chocolate, milk (either liquid or condensed) and sugar are added. Most countries have regulations on what kind of mixture ratio can be defined as chocolate. In the US, the FDA requires dark chocolate (“semi-sweet” or “bitter sweet” chocolate) to be a minimum of 35% cocoa liquor. For milk chocolate, the FDA requires the finished products to have 10% cocoa liquor.

So, this all sounds nice and fancy and complicated, but it’s less complicated than the previous conversation about ancient alchemy would lead you to believe. You can use cocoa liquor in any recipe that calls for unsweetened baker’s chocolate. You can also melt cocoa liquor to make hot chocolate and fudge. And if making fresh hot chocolate from cocoa liquor doesn’t count as “alchemy,” then I don’t know what does.

When your business needs cocoa liquor for a recipe, use CocoaSupply.com's high-quality cocoa liquor instead of a more mass marketed cocoa, it makes a big difference. And don’t forget that now you can tell people the history of cocoa liquor and drop fancy Latin terms, which also makes a big difference.