A glossary of chocolate terms

A glossary of chocolate terms

By Emily Hayes


I waffle on a lot of things in life, but one thing I can stay constant on is how much I love chocolate. Now I’m no connoisseur, but in my eyes whether it’s chocolate cake, cookies, ice cream, truffles, or just plain ol’ chocolate bars – you can’t go wrong.


Butsometimes I see technical terms, such as “enrobing,” and I have no idea what they mean! I figure I’m not alone with this confusion.


As we get ready to head into the holiday gift giving season (and chocolate is the perfect gift, IMO), I’m going to take you on a stroll down a chocolate-coated candy lane to explain the meaning of some sweet, yet confusing chocolate terms.

Chocolatier vs. chocolate maker
At first glance you may think they mean the same thing, right? Not quite! A chocolatier is a specialist who creates cacao and chocolate recipes, whereas a chocolate maker actually buys the cocoa beans, roasts them and grinds them into chocolate. So essentially, the chocolatier is buying the finished product of the chocolate maker. Chocolatiers are much more common whereas chocolate makers are few and far between since turning cocoa beans into chocolate is highly specialized business.


Cocoa nibs
These are the small and crunchy parts at the heart of the roasted cocoa beans. They consist of about half cocoa butter and half cocoa powder. When eaten, they pop and then melt in your mouth since they are half cocoa butter… YUM!

Does anyone else think of a conch shell? In the chocolate world, this is a mechanical kneading process that improves the texture and taste by driving out astringency (bitterness). Conching time refers to the number of hours the chocolate spends in this process, which can vary from 12 all the way up to 120 hours! (Side note: I can eat a lot of chocolate in 15 minutes, just sayin)


Try not to drool… This is the process by which individual chocolates are given an outer chocolate coating by being passed through a waterfall of liquid chocolate. Can you say Wonka-rrific?


It’s a fancy mixture of chocolate and cream with a velvety-smooth texture, such as the filling of chocolate truffles. It’s been rumored that the term was created when a nineteenth-century apprentice knocked some cream into a tub of chocolate. His boss called him ‘un ganache’, which meant an imbecile. Personally, I can only think of him as a genius!


I always saw this ingredient but I never knew what it was. Lecithin is a naturally occurring plant extract that helps smooth chocolate and let it flow more easily. This makes it easier for the chocolatier to handle when it’s melted. I’m all for it!


This is another way to make the chocolate smoother. It’s a way to precisely control heating and cooling of molten chocolate to correctly crystallize the cocoa butter within, which produces the required consistency and smooth, glossy finish.


This is the process of removing the shells from roasted cacao beans, leaving the nibs to be ground to make chocolate.


Okay, that’s our brief glossary of chocolate terms. The next step is to go buy some chocolate and impress your friends and colleagues with your vast knowledge.


BTW, chocolate makes an outstanding business gift for clients or a festive thank you for fellow employees. NPP members can save on brands such as Simply Chocolates and Harry & David. Pair chocolates with a bouquet from 1-800-Flowers and you’re going to get a lot of smiles.


If your business is not already an NPP member, register for free today. There are no fees or any obligation to buy. More than 300,000 members coast to coast enjoy corporate savings that reduce costs.


NPP is owned by non-profit hospitals and a significant amount of our proceeds benefit medical research and care. You can feel good about your purchases. It’s kind of like feeling good about chocolate. So easy and rewarding.