Chocolate and So Much More

Chocolate, Cocoa And Chocolate Couverture

Chocolate History

Although cocoa beans are believed to have been brought to Europe by Christopher Colombus in 1694, archaeologists believe that the cocoa tree may have originated in the Orinoco and Amazon regions of South America. The cocoa tree is a plant that only flourishes in the narrow bands around the equator. The Spanish established cocoa plantations throughout their Central and South American colonies as well as the Caribbean and the Philippines.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the Dutch took cocoa trees to Indonesia and Ceylon, from there cocoa was introduced to the Gold coast, Ghana and Nigeria, the latter being the world’s leading grower, Brazil being the second.

The cocoa tree yields a thick skinned pod containing seeds or beans surrounded by a soft pulp. The beans and pulp are allowed to ferment, during this process the pulp is changed to CO2 and alcohol. The alcohol is oxidised to acetic acid, which is allowed to flow away. After a further period of fermentation, which destroys the embryo and affects internal changes at the same time, the beans are dried and packed for shipping.

At the chocolate factory the beans are sorted, cleaned and roasted. This renders the skins easy to remove and at the same time, develops flavour. The roasted beans are then broken into smaller pieces and blended with other unroasted beans in such a way that a desired colour and eating quality is attained. The blended pieces are then milled into fine particles, during which the temperature is raised causing the cocoa butter to melt, so that the whole changes to a thick viscous mess (this is crude chocolate). After further milling it is run into moulds and set. This is unsweetened black chocolate.

Chocolate mmmmmmm!!!
Chocolate mmmmmmm!!!
Chocolate Couverture
Chocolate Couverture

Chocolate Production


The blended chocolate is mixed with cocoa butter, sugar and, in the case of milk chocolate, with milk solids then refined until the particle size is reduced to extreme fineness. The viscosity is adjusted by the addition of more cocoa butter. The process is slow but necessary if fine chocolate is to be produced. The chocolate now known as couverture, is then run into moulds and set, this product then requires tempering before use.

Baker’s Chocolate

This is a product specially made for coating cakes, it is similar to couverture except that most of the cocoa butter is removed and replaced by hydrogenated vegetable fats, together with a stabiliser such as lecithin. Baker’s chocolate, when set, cuts easily, is softer and does not splinter. It can be either plain or milk. This product does not need to be tempered, because of the removal of the cocoa butter, and replacement with other fats, it is suitable for chocolate dipping, with reduction in quality, but not for moulding.

Tempering or Precrystallisation

Tempering is of paramount importance as it is mainly responsible for determining the final gloss, hardness and contraction of the chocolate. Tempering consists of heating the chocolate to a specific temperature as a result of which the cocoa butter it contains is brought to the most stable crystalline form resulting in hard shiny chocolate.

Tempering by Hand

You will get better results on a cold table or marble surface.


·         Pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a cold table or marble surface.

·         Spread out the chocolate mass and work with a spatula until the temperature of the chocolate is approx 27°C (81°C). Nearly setting.

·         Add the tempered chocolate to the non-tempered chocolate.

·         Mix thoroughly until the mass in the bowl has a completely uniform temperature. The bowl temperature should not exceed 31-32°C (94-96°C).

·         Milk and White chocolate should not exceed 28-29°C (88-90°C)

·         Dark Chocolate temperature should not exceed 31-32°C (94-96°C).

·         If the temperature of the chocolate is still too high it should be worked again on the cold table until the temperature is 31-32°C (94-96°C).

·         The chocolate should now be ready for use.

Various types of chocolate
Various types of chocolate

Key Points Concerning Chocolate

Storing Chocolate

Chocolate is susceptible to moisture and absorbs external odours, therefore should never be stored in a refrigerator, or close to any strong smelling item. Chocolate should be stored in a cool, dry place away from light and air, ideally at a temperature of between 12 and 20°C (54-68°C).

Melting Chocolate

Never expose chocolate directly to a source of heat. Never allow water to enter chocolate. Preferably use a heating chamber or a bain-marie, set so that the chocolate reaches a temperature of 40 to 45°C (104-113°C). This is the perfect temperature to begin tempering or precrystallisation of couverture.

Working Conditions

The temperature of the room should be around 28°C (60°F). Humidity should not be too high. Do not store finished chocolate products in the fridge.


Sufficient time must be given to allow for setting at a fairly low temperature. Short term setting in a refrigerator will attract a film of condensation or moisture upon removal, especially if the atmosphere is too humid.

Too High Temperature

Chocolate will be too thin, will run too easily or the fat will rise to the surface spoiling the gloss.

Too Low Temperature

Chocolate becomes difficult to work with and sets thick and streaky.


Moulds should be highly polished and free from any blemishes, as otherwise they will show up on the finished product. Fill the moulds with liquid chocolate, tapped to remove air and then emptied. When set, a second filling may be required. Also ensure the moulds are not too cold prior to use.

Inadequate Handling

The bloom which appears on chocolate which has been poorly stored can also be a result from inadequate handling whilst the chocolate was in liquid form.

Fat Bloom

This result can occur when the chocolate is too warm and appears as white streaks on the surface of the chocolate.

Sugar Bloom

This is a white bloom, which appears on the surface of the chocolate and is caused by condensation on the surface of the chocolate, which in turn dissolves the sugar. When the water evaporates the sugar re-crystallises on the surface.

Tempered Chocolate
Tempered Chocolate

Video For Chocolate products

Using Chocolate for Garnishing

Chocolate Shapes

By spreading tempered chocolate thinly on a sheet of paper or acetate and cut out into shapes with cutters or use of a knife to mark out shapes or squares just as the chocolate is spreading. These can be used for decor of sweets and gateaux etc.

Cigarette, Rolls or Curls

These are formed by spreading melted chocolate onto a cold surface and scraping up rolls or curls in a forward movement using a flexible scraper. This ideally should be done on a marble slab. You do not need to temper chocolate couverture.


Piping with chocolate can be improved by adding a drop of glycerine, this allows the chocolate to set more slowly.

Plastic-Modelling Chocolate


·         Melt 300g of chocolate using a Bain Marie

·         Add 100g of liquid glucose

·         Mix Thoroughly (mix will split slightly)

·         Manipulate a lump in the hand (oil or fat will drop out-cocoa butter)

·         Repeat with the remainder of the chocolate

·         Allow the modelling chocolate to firm up ready for use

Model into desired shapes and allow to set

Comments 6 comments

tantrum profile image

tantrum 6 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

This is a very interesting hub about chocolate. I like the garnishing methods ! C U around Chef !Cheers ! :)

Super Chef profile image

Super Chef 6 years ago from Around the world Author

Thanks for visiting chocolate and so much more tantrum glad you liked it. I took a class on Couverture 3 weeks ago very interesting indeed.

jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Great hub, lots of information, made me feel hungry.

Super Chef profile image

Super Chef 6 years ago from Around the world Author

Glad you enjoyed it jayjay!!!

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

You have some interesting info on chocolate. I luv it . But I had never hear of Couverture mut be too big a word for my little ol brain.

But great informative hub. thanks for sharing

Super Chef profile image

Super Chef 6 years ago from Around the world Author

Thanks for visiting Eileen maybe you have heard of the terms choclateering or a chocalatier. I had never heard of the term Couverture until I took the course approxamately 3 weeks ago.:)

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