Which Is Your Favorite Type of Chocolate?

While there are only three types of chocolate to choose from, dark, milk, and white chocolate, the variations on this delectable theme are infinite.

All chocolate, fine or not, is produced from one or more of these bean types:

  • The Criollo bean, grown in Central America, with an exceptionally fine aroma and low acid levels, is considered the "King" of cacao beans. Used only in the finest gourmet chocolates, it is a very rare and costly bean type.
  • Most of the world's chocolates are produced with the lower quality Forasteros bean, grown in West Africa and South America.
  • The Trinitario (originating in Trinidad), grown worldwide, is a hybrid between the Criollo and the Forasteros bean and is also used to produce fine chocolates.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate aficionados favorite type of chocolate is dark chocolate, which to them, is the ultimate test of a chocolate's taste value. Dark chocolate is composed of select blends of the highest quality cocoa beans. They may also be produced from a single bean in one location (known as single-origin chocolate). These are considered ne plus ultra of chocolate types.

The more robust Forastero bean is sometimes added to extend a longer flavor finish to dark chocolate, so don't automatically discount a chocolatier's confections if this bean is used. There are many other types and hybrids of these three basic cocoa beans. A few other varietal names you may come across include: Arriba, Bahia, Balao Malacha, Chuao, Java, Maragnan, Porcelana, Rio Caribe.

Gourmet dark chocolate has a cocoa content between 50% and 75%. Here's a general guideline, more European in nature, that describes the different dark chocolate types:

  • 50%–55%  An overall balanced dark chocolate type that's good for eating
  • 60%–65%  A dessert chocolate, has a bit more "bite"
  • 70%–75%  Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate—strong, tangy flavored type of chocolate
  • Up to 75% with no sugar or milk added is considered baking chocolate, too bitter for eating

Milk Chocolate

Whole milk or sweetened condensed milk, lecithin, vanilla and sugar are blended with premium cocoa beans to create creamy, sweet milk chocolate. A gourmet milk chocolate contains at least 30–35% cocoa, and can go up to 50% in extra premium bars.

High quality, fine milk chocolate has an extra creamy texture and melts smoothly in your mouth. It should taste rich, sweet and have a full chocolate flavor with no traces of bitterness. This type of chocolate is more popular in the United States.

White Chocolate

Technically, white chocolate, with no cocoa solids in it at all, just cocoa butter, isn't considered a real chocolate type, but a confection. Do you care? Probably not! It's delicious.

Yes, top chocolatiers do include white chocolate in their repertoire, even though it isn't real chocolate. Cocoa butter content for a premium white chocolate ranges from 27%–35%. One artisan owner even confesses that her favorite type of chocolate is a "white chocolate inside and out."

Artisan Chocolatiers

French, Belgian, Italian and Swiss chocolate makers are considered the world's finest, however, there are innumerable, small artisan chocolatiers worldwide who produce transcendent dark and milk chocolate delicacies.

Artisan chocolatiers produce the world's finest chocolates in small, highly controlled batches. Roasting and grinding the beans, refining, conching and tempering the chocolate liquor are meticulously executed processes. Their choice of beans and blending methods are closely guarded secrets. Artisans design their chocolates for ultimate visual appeal as well.

Besides traditional fruit and nut fillings, you'll find creams infused with unusual herbs, spices and flowers that create velvety taste sensations lingering forever in your oral memory. Chili peppers and even tobacco leaves are some of the more unique additions for those with adventurous palates.

Even certified organic chocolates are becoming widely available with some qualifying as vegan, which use only soy products. There's no good reason left why everyone & anyone can't enjoy these exquisite confections once in a while. There's a chocolate type for everyone!

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