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Cocoa content percentages
October 7, 2007
7:13 pm
MEA707
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Hello, this is my first post here. I'm a huge chocolate fan consuming it on a daily basis.

When a chocolate bar states its cocoa content is this in reference to just the cocoa solids or both the cocoa solids and cocoa butter (chocolate liquor)? For example, with the a Lindt Excellence 70% bar, does it mean it is 70% cocoa solids or is the 70% in reference to both the cocoa solids and cocoa butter content?

I know this is a very novice question, but it's been on my mind a lot.

I have heard that the cocoa content of a chocolate refers to both the amount of cocoa solids and cocoa butter which doesn't really make sense since one cannot properly compare different chocolate bars this way.

You could have two 70% chocolate bars, one containing 10% cocoa solids and 60% cocoa butter while the other bar could contain 40% cocoa solids and 30% cocoa butter. These would be two very different tasting chocolate bars.

Even white chocolate could be classified as having a 70% cocoa content with it all being cocoa butter.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

October 8, 2007
1:01 am
gap
Melbourne, Australia
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The 70% refers to both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. And you are spot-on that it can cause confusion because two bars with the same percentage can have very different characteristics.

October 8, 2007
8:31 pm
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by MEA707
...

When a chocolate bar states its cocoa content is this in reference to just the cocoa solids or both the cocoa solids and cocoa butter (chocolate liquor)? For example, with the a Lindt Excellence 70% bar, does it mean it is 70% cocoa solids or is the 70% in reference to both the cocoa solids and cocoa butter content?


percentage = defatted cocoa solids percentage + cocoa butter. Be careful, too, because what you call simply cocoa solids actually has to be called "defatted cocoa solids" because the term cocoa solids by itself *still* means defatted cocoa solids + cocoa butter, because cocoa butter is, itself, solid. I think there ought to be a simpler and less ambiguous term for the defatted cocoa solids portion. What about "cocoa flour"? It seems to describe fairly well what it is and matches well with cocoa butter.

quote:


I have heard that the cocoa content of a chocolate refers to both the amount of cocoa solids and cocoa butter which doesn't really make sense since one cannot properly compare different chocolate bars this way.

You could have two 70% chocolate bars, one containing 10% cocoa solids and 60% cocoa butter while the other bar could contain 40% cocoa solids and 30% cocoa butter. These would be two very different tasting chocolate bars.


You are quite right, and in fact your example isn't even as hypothetical as it might seem. The Hachez Cocoa D'Arriba has 56% cocoa butter in a 77% bar, thus 21% defatted cocoa solids, while El Rey Gran Saman has 36% cocoa butter in a 70% bar, thus 34% defatted cocoa solids. As you might expect, the flavour differences are phenomenal. Hachez' tastes muted and washed out, hidden behind a veil, while El Rey's is mind-pulverising in its intensity. Textures are similarly night and day, the El Rey being decidedly coarse and dry, Hachez being so unimaginably smooth it is the definition of textural perfection in a chocolate.

You can find out what the *real* percentages are by looking at the nutrition label and noting the fat content, from which it's trivial to deduce the percentages, but I still feel there's a disservice being done in the way cocoa percentages are stated for a different reason: application suitability. Different chocolates, with different percentages, are suitable for different uses. For instance, a high cocoa butter chocolate is very useful for chocolate fountains and thin enrobing shells with complex shapes where you need maximum fluidity. By contrast a low cocoa butter fomulation is appropriate when mixing with ingredients having a low fat percentage and high moisture - a classic being when making ice cream (and in general, mixing chocolate with custard bases of any type works best with low cocoa butter) So if the label were more descriptively accurate, you'd have a better sense of how you could use the chocolate.

The professional system lists 3 percentages: total cocoa percentage, fat percentage, and sugar percentage. That gives you absolute knowledge of the the makeup of the chocolate - and I think the educated consumer these days won't be intimidated by 2 extra numbers appearing on their chocolate.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
October 31, 2007
2:52 pm
Ilana
Israel
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Along similar lines, I am looking for regulations about American and European standards for classifying dark and milk choc. I have found min 35% for dark but is this with or without cocoa butter? Any info or leads?
Thanks!

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
November 4, 2007
9:35 am
johnp.
Oslo, Norway
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My guess after reading the previous posts here, is that since a 70% chocolate with 34% cocoa "flour" (excluding the cocoa butter) is being described as "mindblowingly intense", your 35% limit for dark chocolate would have to include cocoa butter. If not, there would probably not be a lot of chocolates around to classify as dark, even in the 70% range.

November 4, 2007
12:40 pm
Sebastian
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for american regulations, check the code of federal regulations, title 21, section 163. it stipulates that semisweet chocolate must contain, at minimum, 35% chocolate liquor (i forget which subsection. in a previous subsection chocolate liquor is also defined). no chocolate standard has a minimum requirement for cocoa butter (or a maximum for that matter), other than to say it's one of the only fats appropriate to use in a standardized chocolate product (of course the EU allows some other fats at small %'s, and milk fat is allowed as well, and in some cases, required).

November 4, 2007
7:02 pm
Ilana
Israel
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Hi Sebastian and johnp!
Thanks for responding! I also assumed it was with cocoa butter, but I want to verify it. It wasa great reading the federal code-thank you very much!!

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
November 4, 2007
8:57 pm
Ilana
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read it again, as well as the European regulations and I am more confused!! "Sweet chocolate contains not less than 15 percent by weight of
chocolate liquor complying with the requirements of Sec. 163.111, as
calculated by subtracting from the weight of the chocolate liquor used
the weight of the cacao fat therein and the weights therein of any
alkali, neutralizing, and seasoning ingredients, and multiplying the
remainder by 2.2, dividing the result by the weight of the finished
sweet chocolate, and multiplying the quotient by 100"

and European: "in the case of chocolate, not less than 43 % total dry
(1) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23. cocoa solids, including not less than 26 % cocoa butter,
3.8.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities L 197/21
— in the case of milk chocolate, not less than 30 % total
dry cocoa solids and not less than 18 % dry milk solids
obtained by partly or wholly dehydrating whole milk,
semi- or full-skimmed milk, cream, or from partly or
wholly dehydrated cream, butter or milk fat, including
not less than 4,5 % milk fat,
— in the case of couverture chocolate, not less than 16 %
of dry non-fat cocoa solids.

Guess I have to go and study it!!!

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
November 6, 2007
1:29 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
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quote:


Originally posted by Ilana

read it again, as well as the European regulations and I am more confused!! "Sweet chocolate contains not less than 15 percent by weight of
chocolate liquor complying with the requirements of Sec. 163.111, as
calculated by subtracting from the weight of the chocolate liquor used
the weight of the cacao fat therein and the weights therein of any
alkali, neutralizing, and seasoning ingredients, and multiplying the
remainder by 2.2, dividing the result by the weight of the finished
sweet chocolate, and multiplying the quotient by 100"


What this means is that they are "normalising" the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate liquor to 54%, presumably to try to circumvent any issues arising from different fat percentages in different raw beans. This is another way of saying that if you happened to find a bar with a disproportionately high fat content, you'd have to have a greater total percentage in order to meet the requirement. Note here that added cocoa butter isn't even being considered, so the bar has to have 15% chocolate liquor equivalent before you add any more, thus eliminating the possibility of "cheating" by adding even more cocoa butter. Notice also that this means 54% isn't what they adjust to for a "standard" bar in the finished chocolate, just in the liquor. For instance, that would mean that a 70% chocolate, using this system, that contained 54% cocoa butter beans, and a 40% cocoa butter total, would have about 29.6 % defatted cocoa solids. However, there is a flaw in the ratings as I see it, because this doesn't account for the reverse: adding cocoa powder, as some chocolates do, in order to boost the amount of defatted cocoa solids. Nonetheless, it would seem the US is at least trying to prevent abuse of the system.

quote:


and European: "in the case of chocolate, not less than 43 % total dry
(1) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23. cocoa solids, including not less than 26 % cocoa butter,


This is clearer but has more possibilities of cheating. Here the bar would have to be classified as a 43% bar, using the standard system lumping both constituents of chocolate together. Furthermore, such a bar at the minimal level, containing the requisite 26% cocoa butter, would therefore be 17% defatted cocoa solids - they'd need to add a pretty big amount of cocoa butter, assuming typical beans which for convenience we will say contain 50% cocoa butter - 9%. The cocoa butter minimum makes no stipulation on how much of some other kind of fat you could choose to have in there, so in fact the bar could be 40% fat and have 14% vegetable fat. Then it would have 43% sugar.

quote:


3.8.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities L 197/21
— in the case of milk chocolate, not less than 30 % total
dry cocoa solids and not less than 18 % dry milk solids
obtained by partly or wholly dehydrating whole milk,
semi- or full-skimmed milk, cream, or from partly or
wholly dehydrated cream, butter or milk fat, including
not less than 4,5 % milk fat,

So again they set the total cocoa solids percentage and the milk solids percentage, along with the milk fat percentage. They don't, interestingly, stipulate a cocoa butter percentage so I don't see anything technically in this specification as quoted that prevents the manufacturer from replacing all the cocoa butter with palm kernel oil. Hmm...


— in the case of couverture chocolate, not less than 16 %
of dry non-fat cocoa solids.


And this is entirely unambiguous, cheat-free when it comes at least to the flavour constituents. Your minimum is 16% defatted cocoa solids, flat. If, however, there's nothing about cocoa butter, then the couverture could again technically be 100% vegelate, but I suspect you've trimmed a bit off this last regulation.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 6, 2007
7:45 am
Ilana
Israel
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Wow! Thanks!! I will now have to digest this!!Iam very grateful -thanks again!

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
November 6, 2007
1:02 pm
Sebastian
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quote:


Originally posted by Alex_Rast

What this means is that they are "normalising" the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate liquor to 54%,


Actually, it can be anywhere between 50-60% totoal cocoa butter in the liquor, according to the current standard. Some beans inherently have more or less fat than others - it's a variable agricultural product. This allows a manufacturer to allow for that variability.

November 6, 2007
1:44 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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So good we've started this discussion - always felt the taste difference in amount of butter is not reflected very clear in the number on the front. Especially the case with 85% - every manufacturer arrives there in a such telling particular way!
Actually I find this percentage asks for some cocoa powder added, not just cocoa butter. or may be try not to interfere with original product, cocoa liquor, too much!

November 6, 2007
4:00 pm
Ilana
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Why can't it be clear cut? The label should say the exact percentage of each part separately- cocoa solids without the butter-35%, cocoa butter 36%, sugar 28%% lecithin, vanilla, etc... Then a regulation can be established for fine chocolate minimums!

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
November 6, 2007
6:20 pm
Alex Rast
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quote:


Originally posted by Sebastian

quote:

Originally posted by Alex_Rast

What this means is that they are "normalising" the amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate liquor to 54%,


Actually, it can be anywhere between 50-60% totoal cocoa butter in the liquor, according to the current standard. Some beans inherently have more or less fat than others - it's a variable agricultural product. This allows a manufacturer to allow for that variability.


No, what I meant is not that the government is *stipulating* that the cocoa butter in the bean must be 54% (that would be impossible if mfrs were to have reasonable bean selection, as you note), what I mean is, that for the purposes of calculating cocoa content, they are specifying it relative to a "reference" source bean having 54%. The manufacturer could, for instance, have a bean with greater cocoa butter percentage, but if they were to do that, then it would have to have a slightly greater total amount of chocolate liquor in order to fit within the regulations. Likewise one with less cocoa butter could get by with slightly less liquor.

Alex Rast
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Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 7, 2007
2:46 am
Sebastian
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It could be that i'm slow...i may not be getting what you're saying alex, if that's the case i apologize.

The problem with cocoa percentages is that there's no standard, legally binding definition of them. It could mean anything, and at the same time doesn't really mean anything because there's no standardized definition. The american legislation is written such that a semisweet chocolate, for example, needs to contain at least 35% liquor. Now that liquor as it comes from a standard ivorian bean, for example, may turn out to be exactly 54% fat. On a label it would be listed as simply 'chocolate liquor'. Now, manufacturers are allowed to add additional cocoa butter to that liquor, elevating the total fat % of the liquor to as high as 60% if they so choose to, and not have it impact a label. For example, if your starting liquor is 54% fat, you can add sufficient cocoa butter to that liquor so that it's total fat content is now 60%. On the ingredient label, it would still be simply listed as 'chocolate liquor' - you would not need to list the additional cocoa butter that was added to bring the liquor component to a total fat content of 60%.... confusing? Sure is 8-)

But it's late, and i'm tired, and i may be attempting to address points that aren't even being raised - if that's the case, so sorry and i'll bow out now ;-)

November 7, 2007
12:31 pm
Alex Rast
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quote:


Originally posted by Sebastian

It could be that i'm slow...i may not be getting what you're saying alex, if that's the case i apologize.

The problem with cocoa percentages is that there's no standard, legally binding definition of them. It could mean anything, and at the same time doesn't really mean anything because there's no standardized definition. The american legislation is written such that a semisweet chocolate, for example, needs to contain at least 35% liquor. Now that liquor as it comes from a standard ivorian bean, for example, may turn out to be exactly 54% fat.


what I'm saying is, if the liquor did NOT happen to be 54% fat, because of different properties of the source beans, the real amount of liquor the chocolate would have to have would be different from 35%. So if the source beans had, say, 60% fat, the chocolate would in fact need to have about 39% liquor in order to conform to the "35%" rule, that is to say, they are stating 35% with reference to a standard (arbitrary) liquor that in theory had 54% fat.

quote:


On a label it would be listed as simply 'chocolate liquor'. Now, manufacturers are allowed to add additional cocoa butter to that liquor, elevating the total fat % of the liquor to as high as 60% if they so choose to, and not have it impact a label. For example, if your starting liquor is 54% fat, you can add sufficient cocoa butter to that liquor so that it's total fat content is now 60%. On the ingredient label, it would still be simply listed as 'chocolate liquor' - you would not need to list the additional cocoa butter that was added to bring the liquor component to a total fat content of 60%


Yes, that could be OK, but that would have the net effect of requiring your "liquor" percentage, in the sense of what you claimed on the *label* to go up to the 39%. So you wouldn't be "getting away" with anything - because the original starting liquor would still have to compose 35%, thanks to the fact that the added cocoa butter wouldn't contribute to the total used for the purposes of calculating liquor percentages in order to establish that the product could be called chocolate in the eyes of the USDA. The additional cocoa butter is factored out by the way the USDA does the calculation.

It's also been asked - why not require everyone to list defatted cocoa solids percentage, cocoa butter percentage, and sugar percentage as separate figures? Yes, that's actually essentially what's done in the professional trade, and I think the educated consumer wouldn't have a problem with that, but from a regulatory perspective it would put an odious burden on small manufacturers who'd have to send samples of their bars to expensive testing labs in order to get them all individually tested - and this could vary from year to year as bean lots changed, whereas you can compute your cocoa solids percentage directly from your ingredient list without actually having to test it. It would also add significant regulatory overhead (= cost, personnel) which might be more than the tax system of the concerned countries could do. I think it would be nice if chocolate manufacturers provided this information on a voluntary basis, but *compelling* them to do so I think would create new problems in an attempt to solve old ones.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
November 7, 2007
6:09 pm
ChemicalMachine
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The fat content is listed on the nutrition label, which I believe is required for all bars sold in the US.

I have in front of me a bar of Lindt Excellence 70%. The "Nutrition Facts" label shows that each 40 gram serving has 17 grams of fat. So we divide 17 by 40, and see that the bar is 43% fat. We subtract the 43% from the 70% total, and see that the bar contains 27% deffated cocoa solids.

Correct?

November 7, 2007
8:24 pm
Ilana
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Yes this is correct-but only for dark chocolate bars that have no other fats in them. Supermarket brands or milk choc is another story.

Ilana Bar-Hai www.ganache.co.il
March 27, 2008
7:56 pm
chocophile
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quote:


Originally posted by Sebastian

for american regulations, check the code of federal regulations, title 21, section 163. it stipulates that semisweet chocolate must contain, at minimum, 35% chocolate liquor (i forget which subsection. in a previous subsection chocolate liquor is also defined). no chocolate standard has a minimum requirement for cocoa butter (or a maximum for that matter), other than to say it's one of the only fats appropriate to use in a standardized chocolate product (of course the EU allows some other fats at small %'s, and milk fat is allowed as well, and in some cases, required).


The FDA Standards of Identity for chocolate are here [url]http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=163[/url].

Sebastian is partially correct. Minimum and maximum cocoa butter content for chocolate liquor are specified in section 163.111: "Chocolate liquor contains not less than 50 percent nor more than 60 percent by weight of cacao fat."

The EU standards embodied in the Codex Alimentarius are more precise. The Codex is here [url]http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_en.jsp[/url].

:: Clay
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http://www.thechocolatelife.com/

:: Clay Discover "The Chocolate Life @ http://www.thechocolatelife.com/
March 28, 2008
4:15 am
deb
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In Canada, a nutritional label is allowed a margin of 20% error! So the labels are semi accurate. I am not positive, but I think in the US, the labelling can be taken from a standard source. So even though the labels have all this info, they are not completely accurate.

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