Chocolate 101

Cacao: Used to refer to the name of the tree, as well as the beans in its fruit. Chocolate is made from the beans.

Cacao butter: Natural vegetable fat extracted from cacao beans. It is white and has a rich, buttery texture that resembles white chocolate in taste and appearance.

Cacao nib: The insides of the cacao bean that are ground into smaller bits. The insides are revealed only after the beans are roasted and the husks are removed. Besides being used to make chocolates and cocoa powder, cacao nibs can be used as a garnish for salads and desserts.

Compound chocolate: Chocolate that has some or all of its cocoa butter replaced with vegetable oil.

Conching: The process of mixing, stirring and aerating heated liquid chocolate to remove unwanted acidity and bitterness.

Couverture chocolate: Chocolate that is made up of at least about 30 per cent cocoa butter, which makes it easier to melt and is ideal for forming thin coats for confections or for dipping.

Ganache: An emulsion of chocolate and cream, which often has elements such as spices and liqueur added to it.

Praline: A confection with a core encased in a chocolate shell. The mixture at the core varies. Sometimes it is ganache or a mixture of caramelised sugar and nuts. In France, the inside is a whole almond that is caramelised.

Tempering: The process of heating and cooling chocolate to a range of temperatures to form the right type of cocoa butter crystals that give the chocolate a shiny appearance.

Truffle: A soft chocolate made of ganache and sometimes dusted with cocoa powder. Its name is derived from its resemblance to truffles, the prized underground fungus.