The partially fermented beans from a tropical evergreen tree that are processed to make chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter.

Cacao Mothers:

Tall trees grown on plantations next to cacao trees to shade the cacao trees from the sun. Depending on the location of the plantation, these trees range in variety from banana to rubber to coconut palms.

Cacao Beans: 

The source of all chocolate! Cacao beans are found in the pods of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, an evergreen typically grown within 20° of the equator.


The Aztec word for cacao bean. The modern derivative is the word chocolate.


The pre-Columbian people who planted and cultivated the first cacao plantations in the Yucatan region of Mexico around 600 A.D.  These plantations established their wealth and significance as traders 

Alkalized Cocoa Powder

Dutch process powders that have been treated with alkali. These powders range from very light reddish-brown to dark reddish-brown in color, and mild cocoa flavor to strong cocoa flavor.

Cocoa Powder: 

Once cacao beans are fermented, dried, roasted and cracked, the nibs, the center of the cocoa bean, are ground to extract about half the cacao butter, leaving a dark brown paste called chocolate liquor. After drying again, the hardened mass called the press cake is ground into unsweetened cocoa powder, which is either natural or Dutch processed. The cocoa powder is available in different fat levels, and tastes range from mild to strong, as well as unsweetened. It is used for baking, reduced fat and calorie recipes, and ice cream flavoring. 

Cocoa Solids: 

After some or most of the fat has been removed from the cocoa powder with a hydraulic press, the remaining solid materials include the flavoring and coloring components of chocolate liquor.

Cacao Butter: 

The natural, cream-colored vegetable fat extracted from cacao beans by using a hydraulic press to extract it from chocolate liquor. Cacao butter adds smoothness and flavor, and is the main ingredient in white chocolate.


The inner almond shaped seed of the cacao bean. The nibs are exposed after the outer shells of the cacao beans have been removed. Nibs are roasted, then ground to produce chocolate liquor, from which all chocolate products are made.


Different types of chocolate


Baking Bitter:

Non-alcoholic unsweetened chocolate liquor in solid form used as a baking ingredient.

Baking Chocolate:

This chocolate, pressed from the cacao bean, is pure, unsweetened, and sometimes bitter chocolate liquor. Baking chocolate usually has vanilla and lecithin (which acts as an emulsifier) added for flavor.

Bittersweet Chocolate:

Chocolate liquor is first pressed from the cacao bean during processing. Cocoa butter, a small amount of sugar, vanilla, and usually lecithin are then added.  Bittersweet chocolate has a deep, strong, tangy and slightly sweet flavor. It is used for making all types of desserts, pastries, and confections. Some like to eat it as is. Bittersweet chocolate is also made as couverture (coating) chocolate. Because it has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate, professionals use it to produce thin outer coatings on cakes, truffles, and other confections. Couverture chocolate must be tempered to stabilize the cocoa butter.

Chocolate Liquor: 

A bitter liquid or paste produced when cacao beans are roasted and ground, and usually used as a baking ingredient. The chocolate liquor is cooled and molded into blocks (unsweetened baking chocolate). The liquor and blocks contain roughly 53% cacao butter.

Chocolate Modeling Paste:

Chocolate modeling paste can be made with dark, milk or white chocolate by mixing it with corn syrup. It’s pliable and has a malleable texture, similar to marzipan. Ribbons, ruffles, flowers, leaves, and stems can be cut and fashioned from thinly rolled out chocolate modeling paste to decorate desserts, pastries, and other confections.

Compound or Confectioners Coating: 

A coating material similar to, but is not chocolate. It is created with domestic or imported fats, not cacao butter.


A term describing professional quality chocolate that is extremely glossy. It usually contains a minimum of 32% cocoa butter, which enables it to form a much thinner shell than ordinary confectionary coating. Couverture is usually only found in specialty candy making shops. You often find it as the chocolate that surrounds chocolate covered fruits, or as the shell of fancy filled chocolates.


Ganache is made with varying proportions of chocolate and cream. More chocolate than cream yields a firm ganache, whereas more cream than chocolate makes a softer, more velvety mixture. Ganache has many uses, such as centers for truffles and fillings for cakes and tarts. In its liquid state it is poured over cakes and pastries as a glaze. Ganache can be flavored with liqueurs and extracts, or combined with soft, beaten butter to create ganache beurre.

Milk Chocolate: 

Cacao butter, milk, sweeteners and flavorings are added to chocolate liquor. Milk chocolate lends itself to good use for garnishes and candy coatings. All milk chocolate made in the U.S. must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor and 12% whole milk.

White Chocolate: 

Contains cacao butter but does not contain nonfat cacao solids. Mostly used as a coating, white chocolate contains sugar, cacao butter, milk solids and flavorings such as vanilla. White chocolate is the most fragile form of chocolate. Imitation white chocolate is made with vegetable oil rather than cocoa butter. 

Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet:

Made from chocolate liquor with additional sweeteners and cacao butter. It is also known as dark chocolate. According to United States standards, it must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor. Its fat content averages 27%.

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