Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chocolate: Ingredient Part 3

This is the third part of Chocolate Ingredients:
Ingredients Part 1
Ingredients Part 2

Sugar and Sweeteners
Sugar is to chocolate what salt is to other foods. Yes, majority of the chocolate is sugar.  A little enhances the flavor of the cocoa liquor but too much makes it unpalatable.

High grade cane or beet sugar is used in the manufacturing of chocolate - it must be dry and free from invert sugars. Invert sugar and moisture causes the sugars is detrimental to the chocolate's texture and presents difficulties in conching and tempering.

Can you just add your own sugar to chocolate liquor to make a sweetened chocolate? No, part of the reason for conching chocolate is to reduce the particle size of the sugar as well. If you do add your own sugar you will get a gritty product that will not temper properly. It would be the same as the round Mexican chocolate patties you can buy used to make hot chocolate in Mexico.  Powdered, icing or confectioners sugar (products contain corn syrup) will make your chocolate radioactive. Don't do it.

Milk or Cream
There are different milk products used in the manufacturer of milk chocolate. Like a good laté, milk carmelization plays an important part.

Condensed Milk - This is used almost solely by European manufacturers.

Whole or skim milk is preheated to 180° - 185°F (82° - 85°C) for 15 minutes, destroying pathogenic organisms, yeasts and molds and inactivates enzymes. Sugar is then added to the hot milk and the solution evaporated under vacuum. When the required concentration is reached the mixture is rapidly cooled under constant agitation and sealed in containers.

Milk Powder - Milk powder is produced using a drum/roller process or the spray process.

In the drum or roller process, the liquid milk in a vat is picked up by a large heated roller. As the roller rotates the heat from the roller evaporates the moisture leaving a film of dry milk on the roller. This film of milk is scraped off into flakes before the roller again makes contact with the liquid milk.

In the spray process, concentrated milk is sprayed into a chamber where hot air is circulating. As the moisture is evaporated the particles of milk fall to the bottom of the chamber where they are filtered out of the air.

Milk Crumb - this ingredient is used by US and UK chocolate manufacturers. The development of this process revolutionized the manufacture of milk chocolate. The process produces a product that has a rich, creamy, caramelized flavor. The essence of the crumb process is the Maillard reaction between the milk protein and sugars, which produces a caramel like flavor. It is a time/temperature/water reaction.

The benefits of using milk crumb are that dried milk crumb can be stored for long periods without rancidity of staleness developing as it would with dried milk.  It also drastically simplifies the chocolate making processes.

In an at-home blind tasting, I find myself typically liking condensed milk chocolates better than the milk crumb ones.  However, it could just be a matter of quality not milk type.

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