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More about Chocolate

Continuing the celebration of National Chocolate Month….stay tuned for more!

There has been a renaissance of sorts with Artisan chocolates becoming very well-known, wide-spread and popular.  You may have noticed a number of chocolate products with the percentage of chocolate liquor in them.  When Ghirardelli starts putting “60% chocolate chips” on the shelf at Publix, you know this is here to stay!  If you shop for high-end chocolates where you before would have seen a small selection under a brand, you now see specially identified chocolates, whether they be the location it was grown, the bean selection or some other designator.  There are great parallels between chocolate and wine in these regards, and the suppliers are now providing many more chocolate choices.

The question I often get in class is about the marking of percentages on the chocolates.  Why would Ghirardelli put that 60% designation on their semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips?  The reason comes down to federal requirements.  Yes, Congress has defined chocolate for all of us. (If you are dying to look it up, check out 21CFR163).

The FDA requires certain compositions when chocolates are marked certain ways.  Per the FDA requirements, sweet chocolate must contain at least 15% chocolate liquor by weight.  To label it semi-sweet or bittersweet, it must contain a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor by weight – a far cry from the 62% Callebaut or 73.5% El Rey chocolates I like to use.  Since there is such a low threshold of chocolate content, high-end producers mark the percentage on the package so you know what you are really getting.  Now what about milk chocolate?  Milk chocolate  is required to have a minimum of 10% chocolate liquor by weight and it must also contain no less than 3.39 percent of milk fat and 12% milk solids by weight.

Now you know what to look for when buying good chocolate.  Remember, life is too short to eat bad chocolate!

For my Huntsville friends, I know that EarthFare on US72 carries Callebaut, El Rey and one Vahlrona.  In Callebaut they had semisweet (Percentage wasn’t on the label) and white.  El Rey had white chocolate, 60% semisweet and 73.5% bittersweet (love this one!).  You have to look for them in the cheese section.  If you are around a Whole Foods store, they have these plus more Vahlrona and Scharffenberger.

Here is a recipe of Chocolate Mousse Tort from one of the chocolate classes that I teach:

Chocolate Mousse Tort
Servings: 12
Chocolate mousse may be prepared up to two days ahead of time. Keep refrigerated.

9 each chocolate graham crackers, about 5 oz.
1/4 cup butter, unsalted, cut into pieces, room temperature

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
pinch salt
3 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

For Crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Butter a 9-inch spring form pan with pastry brush

Finely grind cookies in food processor. Add butter and process until mixture is evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan to form thin crust.

Bake crust 5 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely

For Mousse: Bring 1 cup of cream to a simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Slowly add chocolate, vanilla and salt and stir.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Stir occasionally.

Beat 2 cups cream and sugar in large, well chilled bowl until mixture holds medium  to firm peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Pour mousse into prepared crust. Chill until set, al least 1 1/2 hours, or ideally, overnight.

Chocolate Mousse Torte

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