Glossary of Chocolate Terms

Chocolate jargon demystified. We share the language of chocolate.


The crushed seeds from the tropical tree Bixa orellana. Used as a red colouring agent.


The processing of cocoa powder with sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate, stabilising the colour, neutralising acids and increased the solubility of the cocoa powder.


The shell of the cocoa bean.


Biological term referring to how the cacao tree flowers, with flowers and therefore the fruit (beans) growing directly on the trunk and branches of the tree.


The final product! Created by blending cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla and possibly milk.

Chocolate Crumb

Milk crumb made with cocoa mass or cocoa butter added during evoporation. This improves shelf life and taste over milk crumb.

Cocoa Bean

There are four major types of bean producing tree - Criollo, Forastero, Trinitario and Nacional.

Criollo A high quality bean originating in Mexico and Central America. The yield is fairly low and it is often mixed with other varieties when making chocolate.

Foeastero Cultivated in Africa, Central and South America. This tree grows faster and gives a higher yield and constitutes approx 80% of world production.

Trinitario A crossbreed between the Forastero and Criollo, mainly cultivated in Central and South America and Asia. It has the aroma of Criollo and the disease resistance and productivity of Forastero.

Nacional Mostly cultivated in South America, west of the Andes. It has an excellent aroma but is difficult to grow and disease prone.

Cocoa Butter

The natural vegetable fat of cacao mass, extracted under pressure and heat (approximately 90 degrees Celcius) in a filter press. The extracted liquid is cocoa butter which can be filtered and treated with steam to become odourless.

Cocoa Cake

The solid mass remaining after removing cocoa butter by pressing.

Cocoa Mass

a viscous (thick) dark liquid obtained by repeatedly rolling roasted cocoa beans. Cocoa mass is a base for further processing towards chocolate. Cocoa mass typically contains 55% cocoa butter, has a strong odour and is bitter in taste. Also called Cocoa Liquor and Cocoa Paste.

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa beans are roasted, then ground to a paste. Afterwards, the thick paste is pressed between hydraulic plates, which squeeze out about half of the excess cocoa butter. (Cocoa beans are about 50% fat.) What’s left is a hard disk of cocoa powder, which is then grated/ground into a fine powder. Most cocoa powders are between 20-22% fat.

Colour Nuancing

The technique of affecting the colour of moulded chocolate by adding different coloured chocolate to the side of a mould with finger or brush before pouring the main chocolate into the mould.


The technique of stirring and kneading heated chocolate to improve its flavour.


1: Very high quality chocolate.

2: Chocolate with a higher minimum fat content, usually 32% to 39% cocoa butter. Couverture is particularly used for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.


During pre-crystallisation graft crystals form, once these are present they multiply, initially slowly but the rate of creation increases. Crystallisation is the complete filling of the chocolate mass with crystals. There are various types of crystals which can form, depending upon temperature, rate of cooling and other factors. Optimal crystallisation results in optimal chocolate characteristics. In contrast, if chocolate is melted then placed in a refrigerator and rapidly cooled, it will solidify without much crystalisation, resulting in chocolate with a dull lustre and which softens and turns greasy upon warming.


See Alkalisation.


Cracking open the shell of the cacoa bean which is done soon after it is picked from the tree.


Intensive blending of the base ingredients resulting in a homogeneous mass.


Enveloping a praline inside a thin coating of tempered chocolate.

Fat Bloom

To be avoided! A white to grey powdery deposit which can appear on the surface of chocolate. This is caused by poor storage of the chocolate with temperature variations, allowing the fat in the chocolate to melt and re-crystallise into the wrong type of crystal.


Ganache is made with chocolate and cream and possibly butter for texture and other flavourings such as alcoholic liqueurs. It is used as icing on cakes or as a filling in pastries.


A type of chocolate or sweet spread made from chocolate and hazelnuts. Typically 30% hazelnuts, finely ground into a paste blended with chocolate.

It is used as a spread on bread or toast, or as ingredient in torts or other deserts, or presented in layers then sliced showing stripes and eaten by itself.

Grue de cocoa

Cracked and roasted cocoa beans that have their shells removed.


Obtaining a smooth consistency. Chocolate contains moisture and fats which require careful mixing to break up the particles and avoid separation. Ideally the minute fat particles end up coated with a layer of water.

Imitation Chocolate

Chocolate made with vegetable oil substituted for the cocoa butter. Imitation chocolate will consist of cocoa powder, sugar, possibly milk powder and vegetable fat (solidified oil). Imitation chocolate can have a higher melting temperature than quality chocolate and so is used in hotter climates, such as Australia, for products such as mass produced chocolate biscuits and bars.

Lecithin E332

An emulsifier. A naturally sourced oily substance derived from soya bean, sunflower or canola seed. The emulsifier binds cocoa butter to sugar, milk powder and cocoa mass. Dosage of Lecithin in chocolate is typically 0.3% to 0.5%. Small dosage variances will noticeably affect liquidity.

Maillard Reaction

The chemical reaction between sugar and amino acids (which make up proteins). It occurs under heat (120 to 180 degrees Celsius) and results in changes to colour, aroma and flavour. It occurs in the production of chocolate, the brewing of beer, the roasting of coffee, the baking of bread and in much other cooking.

Mid Crop

The second harvest in the same year of cacao beans.

Milk Crumb

Condensed milk dried with sugar. It is imbued with a fine caramel and creamy aroma.


Creating shaped chocolate by pouring a thin layer of tempered chocolate into the mould as a shell for the final chocolate shape, which can then be filled with a different chocolate or another filling.


The peel of the cacao bean.

Origin Chocolate

Chocolate created from cocoa beans of a specific origin, usually a particular country or region. In contrast, most chocolate uses a blend of beans from several sources. Origin chocolate has characteristics and flavours influenced by soil types, particular plantations, climate, etcetera. Also called Single Origin Chocolate.


Persipan is a material used in confectionery. It is similar to marzipan but apricot or peach kernels are used instead of almonds. Persipan generally consists of 40% ground kernels and 60% sugar

Petit Four

Petit Fours are bite sized appetisers, usually sweet but can be savoury. They are often a miniaturised version of cakes and pastries.


The sour-sweet and sugar rich pulp which envelops the fruit containing the cocoa beans.


Confectionery made with ground nuts.


The process of bringing the cocoa butter to its optimal crystaline form with other fats present in the chocolate. Pre-crystallisation refers to the creation of initial beta crystals in the cocoa butter, and is crucial for tempering.


A refrigerated shipping container, typically a 20 foot container. Apromo Trading uses reefers to sea freight bulk goods in temperature controlled conditions from Europe to Australia.

Roller Powder

Whole milk powder derived bu guiding thickened milk across heated rollers, evaporating its moisture. Roller powder is slightly yellow, has a rough texture, has lost much of the milk flavour and is insoluble in water.

Solidified Fat

Chemically modified vegetable oil used in the production of imitation chocolate.


Milk powder produced by spraying milk inside a tower through which hot air is blown. This evaporates the water and produces a white powder with a superior milky flavour which is soluble in water.

Sugar Bloom

This is a blemish on the chocolate surface which is rough crystallised sugar on the surface following moisture contamination. It can occur when chocolate is moved from cold to a warm moist environment, allowing condensation to form on the chocolate surface, which dissolves the sugar then evaporates to leave the sugar bloom.


The process whereby the cocoa butter in chocolate is changed into a stable crystal form. The process requires specific timing and temperatures for melting and cooling the chocolate. These vary for different chocolates. Tempering ensures a glossy lustre, brittle breaking characteristics, and the smoothing melting properties of quality chocolate.


A bitter alkaloid substance found in chocolate. Chemically related to caffeine. As a chemical it has been medically used as a vasodilator, diuretic, and heart stimulant. While a mild stimulant for humans, Theobromine is particularly toxic for dogs, and can be fatal for a dog who eats even a moderate quantity of chocolate. Another name for Theobromine is xantheose and 3,7-dimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione.


1: In cooking, Truffles are highly sought after mushrooms which grow underground in some forests. This use of the word is usually not applied with chocolates.

2: In the world of chocolate, truffles are individual usually round ball shaped chocolates, usually with a ganache centre in a chocolate shell, possibly coated in chopped nuts, cocoa powder, etc.


An organic crystal that forms on the outside of the vanilla bean. A cured vanilla pod contains about 2% dry weight of vanillin thus making it’s extraction both expensive and inefficient.The demand for natural vanillin far exceeds production so the majority of vanillin is chemically synthesised, the chemical structure of both natural and synthesised vanillin is identical.


How easy or hard it is to stir a liquid. With chocolate it is determined largely by the total fat content, that is, the sum of the cocoa butter in the cocoa mass and the cocoa butter which is added in the chocolate’s production.