In our previous series on the ingredients behind chocolate we’ve made mention of ‘cocoa liquor’, and without it we would have no chocolate at all! So, let’s take a look at this vital step in the chocolate making process.
What is Cocoa Liquor?
First of all, it’s not to be confused with cocoa or chocolate liqueur, which is a sweet alcoholic beverage that tastes of chocolate, such as crème de cacao. If you were to drink cocoa liquor you would find quite a surprise! It is bitter and oily – a thick mass that tastes of the darkest cocoa imaginable with a very oily mouthfeel. It is roughly a half-half mix of cocoa butter and cocoa mass and it is made pure from cacao beans.
How is it made?
Cacao beans are harvested, dried and allowed to ferment to further develop their intense flavour. They are then roasted and shelled, again allowing for darkening and deepening of flavour. They are then ground into a paste and slightly heated to allow the fat – cocoa butter – to melt. The heat has several actions: firstly, it allows for an even smoother liquid, and secondly it helps to extract every last bit of cocoa butter from the bean paste.
This liquor can then be cooled for easier transport, for use in raw chocolate, or for use in baking. More commonly it can be sweetened with sugar to create the chocolate we know, eat and love!
What role does it play in chocolate?
When at the cocoa liquor stage, other ingredients such as milk solids, sugar, and flavourings such as vanilla, peppermint, or orange peel are added. Now, you have melted chocolate! The whole mass is churned, and refined to create a final product that is balanced in flavour and texture. Then we can add fillings, set it and produce as many chocolate creations as imaginable!