Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is Chocolate Couverture?

On the surface, chocolate terminology can seem daunting and confusing. Terms like couverture, cocoa liquor, nibs, and cocoa butter can be confusing enough but there are also a host of percentages that seem to muddy the waters even more. And here you thought chocolate was just supposed to taste good and now you find yourself in a chemistry lesson. Well, it’s actually a lot less complicated than it sounds.
Couverture is basically a very high quality type of chocolate that contains a higher amount of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. The percentages are usually around 32% to 39% cocoa butter and the total percentage of cocoa butter and cocoa solids should be around 54%. Now, this is all starting to sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The packaging for the couverture will usually have a percentage on it and that number will refer to the combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

Chocolate couverture is used for molding, coating, dipping, and garnishing. This is where we get to the fun part. Want to make your own cream or nut filled chocolates? Get some couverture, some simple molds, and go to town. Want to make chocolate covered cake pops? Grab some couverture. Couverture is also great for fondues and even chocolate fountains, if you want to get really ambitious.

You’ll probably also run into some recipes and articles that will tell you need to temper your couverture. Don’t get too downcast, it’s not really that big of a deal. Tempering basically does two things: it allows couverture that has been melted to last longer and it gives it a better texture for complicated tasks. If you are only going to melt a small amount and use it all immediately, then don’t mess with tempering. Also, if you you’re not extremely concerned with how shiny the chocolate is, or how much of a “snap” it has when broken or bit into, tempering is unnecessary.

When you look at instructions for tempering, that whole overwhelmed feeling can come back. Some articles on couverture tempering include lists of the various crystals that form from cocoa molecules at different temperatures. Yeah, at some level that stuff is important, but you don’t necessarily need it. Here’s the basic break down. If you want to temper your couverture, melt it in a double boiler. Each type of couverture has a different temperature it needs to be heated to:  heat dark chocolate to 120°F, milk chocolate to 115°F, and white chocolate to 110°F. Then let it cool:  dark to 82°F, milk to 80°F, and white to 78°F. Then reheat it to 90°F for dark, 86°F for milk, and 82°F for white.

Oh, and two finals things. Don’t substitute couverture for bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate in recipes. The higher cocoa butter content will alter whatever you’re making. Also don’t confuse couverture for “confectionary chocolate,” “summer coating,” or “compound chocolate.” They usually have vegetable oils, trans fats, or palm oil and are generally lower quality.

All these terms and percentages aren’t really that big of a deal. Now that you know what’s going on, check out some of our great chocolate couvertures. I’ll bet you can think of something awesome to do with them. Especially now, that we are having an INVENTORY CLEARANCE for 75% all our couvertures! (

Have fun, chocolate lovers!


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