Nowadays, chocolate aficionados and anyone who loves a sweet treat can enjoy chocolate in a variety of ways: whether you’re craving a classic chocolate bar, a creamy hot chocolate, velvety fondue – the list is endless.
Let’s explore how different types of chocolate are made, how their ingredients impact their and texture, and how to make the most out of your favourite kind of chocolate.
First Things First: Where Does Chocolate Come From?
Before we delve into the different types of chocolate, let’s first look at the early stages of the chocolate-making process:
Chocolate originates from cocoa beans grown on cocoa trees. The trees are grown in warmer climates close to the equator, 20 degrees of latitude north and south, mainly in Africa, the Caribbean and South America.
How is Chocolate Made?
Cocoa beans go through five key stages of production before making their way to the Lindt Swiss Maîtres Chocolatiers – these are:
- Step 1: harvesting ripe cocoa beans from trees.
- Step 2: fermenting and drying the cocoa beans.
- Step 3: cleaning the cocoa beans.
- Step 4: separating the cocoa solids from the shells of the cocoa beans – a process known as ‘winnowing’.
- Step 5: steaming the cocoa solids.
Once these stages are complete, the cocoa is ready for roasting and grinding. At Lindt & Sprüngli, we carefully select fine quality cocoa beans, roast and grind them in-house with our bespoke roasting process, and thus ensure complete chocolate perfection from the very beginning.
Lindt & Sprüngli is one of the few chocolate manufacturers producing chocolate from bean to bar – from the selection of fine cocoa varieties, sourcing of cocoa beans, and production of cocoa mass (also called cocoa liquor) to the finished product.
For us, traceability begins on the cocoa farm and does not end until the beans reach our production sites. We only purchase cocoa beans from countries and farmers which are part of our own sustainability program – the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program.
What Ingredients Are in Chocolate?
All chocolate productsion starts with cocoa beans, but the final stages of the chocolate-making process (where new ingredients are added or extracted), are very different depending on the type of chocolate produced.
After the cocoa beans are dried and roasted, they are ground to form a liquid called chocolate liquor (also known as ‘cocoa mass’). Chocolate liquor contains both cocoa solids and cocoa butter of equal measure. The ratio of these base ingredients in different types of chocolate depends on the type itself, and what other ingredients the manufacturer is adding – like sugar or milk.
The cocoa content and other ingredients in chocolate ultimately determine the key variations between different types of chocolate.
How Many Different Types of Chocolate Exist?
There are many different types of chocolate, but dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened bitter chocolate are common variations that people enjoy eating and adding to their bakes and beverages.
While some of these chocolate types are thought to have been around for 4,000 years, some variations of chocolate entered the scene much later. White chocolate, for example, was invented in the 1930s, and vegan milk chocolate has only found a place on grocery store shelves in recent years, due to increasing popularity and demand.
1. Dark Chocolate
Considered one of the more luxurious chocolate types, dark chocolate is beautifully rich in taste and deliciously indulgent.
Typical characteristics of dark chocolate include:
- It has a darker colour and more intense chocolate flavour.
- It has a higher percentage of cocoa solids. Our EXCELLENCE dark chocolates range from 70% - 100% cocoa solids, and contain ingredients like sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla aromas.
- It has a higher caffeine content. By having more cocoa solids, the caffeine content in this type of chocolate is naturally higher, though it remains at a very low level (less than 0.1%). Caffeine is a natural component of cocoa, but even the darkest chocolate contains minimal amounts.
Our dark chocolate makes an excellent addition to recipes that require an intense hit of chocolate flavour, like our Ultimate Chocolate Brownies. We would also recommend combining its richness with complementary flavours like zesty orange, tart blackcurrant, or spicy chili.
If the very sound of these flavours is already teasing your tastebuds, you need to try our selection of dark chocolate recipes, including:
- Orange Chocolate Cheesecake
- Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate
- Beef Tenderloin with Dark Chocolate Blackcurrant Pan Sauce
2. Milk Chocolate
Most of the ingredients in milk chocolate are the same as dark chocolate, but this classic variation gets its creamier texture and lighter appearance from one key ingredient – milk powder.
Other key traits of milk chocolate include:
- It has a soft, smooth texture. Because it contains more dairy, milk chocolate is softer and melts easier than dark chocolate.
- Milk chocolate typically contains between 30% - 65% cocoa solids.
- Other ingredients. It has a higher ratio of cocoa butter and sugar compared to darker types of chocolate, making it smoother in texture and sweeter to taste.
Milk chocolate works beautifully when paired with smooth caramel, nutty or fruity flavours. Try these milk chocolate dessert recipes to get all the evidence you need:
Of course, one of the best ways to experience our classic LINDOR milk chocolate is to sit back, relax and melt away into a moment of pure bliss.
3. White Chocolate
White chocolate has made a massive impression since its inception in the 1930s. Its difference in taste and appearance is akin to the ratio of ingredients it contains, which are:
- Cocoa butter. White chocolate has a higher ratio of cocoa butter than other chocolate types and doesn’t contain any cocoa solids.
- Sugar. To get that sweeter taste, white chocolate has more sugar than dark chocolate.
- Milk or milk powder. Its dairy contents contribute to its delicate, sweeter flavour, often infused with accents of vanilla.
This means white chocolate is much lighter in colour and sweeter in flavour, often infused with accents of vanilla.
White chocolate is delicious to eat – especially in a smooth-melting truffle form. It’s also commonly used in home baking and works wonderfully when paired with fruity flavours like raspberry, strawberry, or mango. They provide a delicious tangy flavour that wonderfully contrasts the sweet, vanilla-scented components of white chocolate.
For a heavenly white chocolate experience, try these delicious recipes:
- White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
- Matcha White Chocolate Muffins
- Mango Granola Pot with LINDOR White Chocolate Truffles
4. Unsweetened Chocolate
Unsweetened chocolate is solid chocolate in its purest form, as it contains only two ingredients:
- Cocoa mass
- Cocoa butter
As a zero-sugar product, it has a very bitter taste. For this reason, unsweetened chocolate, like Lindt EXCELLENCE 100% Cacao bar, is perfect to use as baking chocolate in recipes – especially if the sugar content used in the recipe is already high. It can also help enhance the taste of savoury dishes with deep cocoa notes.
6. Vegan Chocolate
While many dark chocolate types don’t contain milk, making them naturally vegan, it’s impossible to make classic milk or white chocolate vegan without adjusting the ingredients used, as they will always contain dairy products.
Lindt & Sprüngli has created an oat-based vegan milk chocolate range, made using oat powder alongside other ingredients like sugar, almonds, cocoa butter, and cocoa mass.
It is a great option to use in vegan recipes if you don’t desire the rich, intense taste of dark chocolate. Or try melting a few squares into a cup of warm plant milk to make the ultimate hot chocolate – perfect for fall and winter.
Is Cocoa Powder a Type of Chocolate?
Though not a solid piece of chocolate, cocoa powder represents another pure form of chocolate –the difference is no other ingredients are added to turn it into solid chocolate.
Not to be confused with sweet hot chocolate powder, natural cocoa powder is made from roasted and ground cocoa beans. It is produced when the ground beans are pressed to remove 75% of their cocoa butter contents, which leaves behind solids that are ground into a dry powder.
Cocoa powder is most used in baking. With high contents of cocoa solids, zero-sugar, and very little cocoa butter, it has an unsweetened taste that adds a deeply intense chocolate flavour to desserts and hot or cold beverages.
Types of Cocoa Powder
Natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder are common types of cocoa powder available on the market. The difference between the two relates to how each is chemically processed.
With different flavours and pH levels, it’s important to consider which type of cocoa powder will be best to use for recipes. The good news is most recipes will state which type is most suitable.
Here at Lindt & Sprüngli, we offer of range of different chocolate types and chocolate products. From dark chocolate truffles to white chocolate bars, and milk chocolate pralines – there’s plenty of quality chocolate to explore. Start your journey to indulgence by viewing our full product range today.