Basic Chocolate Glossary


The cacao (Kuh-Kaw-O) tree (Theobroma cacao) is a native of Latin America. It produces a fruit in form of a large pod, which can contain many imbedded seeds. The pod is fermented; the seeds are then removed, cured and roasted. The end results are called nibs. Cacao has a high fat, carbohydrate and protein content. Cacao is used in chocolate as well as in the preparation of cosmetics and medicines.

Cacao Liquor or Mass or Unsweetened Chocolate:

The basic foundation for chocolate. It is made up of the finely ground cocoa beans that have been removed from its shells, fermented, and roasted.This is technically not yet chocolate, and contrary to the name liquor, it does not have any alcohol.

Cacao Butter:

The yellowish-white vegetable fat contained in a cocoa bean. It is a It is removed from chocolate liquor/mass by using high pressure.

Cocoa Powder:

Made by further processing and drying Cacao butter paste that was extracted from the chocolate liquor. The cocoa is called Dutch-processed if it is treated with alkali to produce a dark, mellow-flavored powder. It is available in different fat levels.


An emulsifier often added to chocolate during the manufacturing process to help give it a smooth, fluid consistency. Lecithin stabilizes fat drops and keeps them from congealing and separating. The majority of lecithin used in chocolate manufacture is derived from soybeans, although it also occurs naturally in egg yolks and some vegetables.


Baker’s / Bitter / Unsweetened Chocolate:

Bitter chocolate that contains 100% cacao content with no sugar added. Historically, its only purpose was for baking. The most common brand Baker’s Chocolate was really named after its’ original owner Dr. James Baker whom built the business with John Hannan, of the first American chocolate mill. There are many other brands of baking chocolate and you can find that the finest chocolate manufacturers are producing an unsweetened product, called 100% cacao content chocolate, that can be eaten as well.

Bittersweet Chocolate:

Bittersweet chocolates that contains 70% or more of cacao. Common percentages on bars are 70%, 73%, 85% and 99%. Percentages are based on the manufacturer’s preference and formula or “recipe.” It must contain a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor as a general rule although most usually contain about 50% chocolate liquor. It’s made with chocolate liquor ,cocoa butter, a small amount of sugar, vanilla, and usually lecithin

Semi-Sweet Chocolate:

Contains a between 15% and 35% of chocolate liquor with the addition of cocoa butter, a small amount of sugar, lecithin, and vanilla. Semisweet chocolate has a deep, rich flavor that is mildly sweet and can be easily interchanged for recipes that call for bittersweet chocolate.

Dark Chocolate:

Chocolate that contains more than 50% cocoa content. Besides chocolate liquor, it often contains added cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, and often lecithin. Semisweet, bittersweet, and extra bittersweet chocolates are all dark chocolates and the only difference between them is the amount of sugar added when they are processed. Semisweet chocolate has the largest amount of sugar, bittersweet has less, and extra bittersweet the least.

Milk Chocolate:

Chocolate with at least 10% in the US (minimum amounts in the EU are 25% and UK 20%) chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids, combined with dairy (milk or cream), sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin and vanilla. White Chocolate 0% chocolate liquor. Made with minimum of 32% (to be considered good quality) of Cacao butter, sugar, and milk.

White Chocolate :

This chocolate is unique because it actually has no cacao and instead only has cacao butter, milk, sugar, lecithin, vanilla, and any other flavorings added by the producer.