Easily mistaken with chocolate liqueur – they’re not the same! – Chocolate liquor is a base ingredient for any chocolate. So, what is chocolate liquor, really?
When we think of liquor, we think of alcohol, which is understandable. But chocolate liquor isn’t a chocolate flavored alcohol – that’s chocolate liqueur! So, what’s the difference between the two?
Chocolate liquor is the root ingredient of chocolate. Chocolate liquor is made from cacao beans and contains an equal proportion of both, cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Many years ago, it was given the name chocolate liquor because it is the liquid from which chocolate was made.
Chocolate liquor is an integral part of chocolate, but how is it made and what is it really used for?
In our research we looked into the method of making chocolate liquor, as well as how it is processed for further use.
Defining Chocolate Liquor
Before we go into the details, how do you define ‘chocolate liquor’? You’d see a number of different terms for it – cacao mass, cocoa mass, and even just ‘chocolate’! Regardless of what term you use, the liquid itself is made from cacao beans, with the solids and butter added in approximately equal amounts.
Though it’s called a ‘liquid’, chocolate liquor is actually a thick paste. It is made from the seeds of cacao fruits – cacao beans – which are fermented, dried and roasted. After going through this process, the skins are removed, and the nibs inside the bean are removed and ground into a mass.
This is a paste, at this point, but when it is heated, it becomes liquid, and this liquid is called cocoa butter.
That means that most chocolate bars you come across will definitely contain some chocolate liquor. Why only most, and not all?
This is because there are different types of chocolate, but the most common types are white, milk and dark. Dark and milk chocolate will always contain at least some amount of chocolate liquor, though dark chocolate usually has a higher amount than milk.
On the other hand, white chocolate doesn’t contain chocolate liquor, but it does contain one part of it: cocoa butter, or cocoa fat. Chocolate liquor has to be processed to separate the solids and butter to make white chocolate.
Nutritional Value of Chocolate Liquor
Chocolate is bad for you, since it’s got high sugar content and is considered junk food – this is not wholly untrue, but is not really accurate either. Milk and white chocolate, which are made of mostly sugar, are not necessarily very healthy options, but dark chocolate is different.
Dark chocolate has higher chocolate liquor content, and less sugar, which is what makes it bitter. Since chocolate liquor is made pretty much from cacao beans, it has a very similar nutritional profile – if not identical.
Cacao beans have high amounts of zinc and magnesium, and are considered antioxidants. In fact, pure dark chocolate, made entirely of chocolate liquor with no other additives, is good for people with heart problems! Research shows that the antioxidants in chocolate liquor helps with tissue inflammation, which can help people with cardiovascular diseases!
Cacao beans also include fiber and some proteins. So, cacao beans, and thus, chocolate liquor, are actually good for your body.
Obviously, that means you can eat as much chocolate as you want, since it’s healthy, right? Maybe in an ideal world, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Again, most chocolate you’d find in stores is not pure chocolate made of only chocolate liquor. The candy bars on shelves are processed and include preservatives, additives, sugar, and more, which make the nutritional value go down.
Using Chocolate Liquor
So, we know chocolate liquor is used to make chocolate – obviously. But it is also used in a number of other items. Ice cream, candy, coffee and whatnot – chocolate liquor is pretty common in the food industry. Most people don’t know chocolate liquor as chocolate liquor though, because it has a much more common (and boring) name: baking chocolate.
Baking chocolate is different from cocoa powder, which is just the cocoa solids with a very small amount of fat. On the other hand, baking chocolate – or chocolate liquor – contains the cocoa butter and solids both, and depending on what kind you buy, may have added sugar.
Chocolate liquor is also used to get other forms of ingredients to use in foods. For example, we mentioned how white chocolate contains only cocoa butter. This butter is contained within the cacao nibs that are taken from the beans, and doesn’t exist separately.
This means that you have to put the chocolate liquor through further heavy-duty presses which process the liquor further and separate it into the cocoa butter – which is used for white chocolate and other such items – and cocoa solids – which are ground to make cocoa powder.
What is Chocolate Liqueur?
So, having discussed chocolate liquor, we come to the question – what is chocolate liqueur? ‘Liquor’ is usually associated with alcohol, so how come chocolate liquor is completely alcohol-free?
Well, the term ‘liquor’ just means a liquid in which something is steeped, and chocolate liquor is just that. While liquor is more commonly associated with alcohol now, it wasn’t necessarily so in the past.
That said, chocolate liqueur is related to alcohol. Any chocolate-flavored alcoholic drink is called chocolate liqueur. These will use cacao nibs (from which chocolate liquor is made!) to give them the distinct chocolate flavor.
On top of that, there is also cacao liquor, which is not the same thing as either chocolate liqueur or chocolate liquor. Cacao liquor is a wine made from the fruit of the cacao tree, instead of using the seeds to make chocolate.
Confusing, but if you didn’t know the difference between these three, you’re not alone! Most people will not know there’s a difference at all.
So, what is chocolate liquor? The liquid base ingredient for all chocolate, made of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Not to be confused with chocolate liqueur and cocoa liquor, both of which are alcoholic drinks.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore