Chocolate and cocoa powder are derived from the beans of cacao tree pods native to Central America but are cultivated today in tropical climates throughout the globe. The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and crushed to render nibs.
To make chocolate cocoa beans are ground into a paste known as chocolate liquor, which contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Manufacturers list the percentage of chocolate on their products based on the total amount of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
The balance between the cocoa solids and cocoa butter can vary too, depending on the formula. More cocoa butter is added to a couverture to make it smoother and thinner for coating chocolate candies.
Additional ingredients including sugar, lecithin, vanilla and milk powder, are added to create different types of chocolate from unsweetened to dark, milk, and white chocolate, which contains no cocoa solids only the cocoa butter.
Cocoa powder is made from compressing chocolate liquor to remove 75% of the cocoa butter, and Dutch-processed cocoa is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids.
Compound chocolate, or compound coating, is a low cost chocolate coating containing sugar, cocoa, vegetable oil, and other additives, used in manufacturing lower quality chocolate candies.
Chocolate is formed into blocks, disks, pistoles, calets, and chips.
Chocolate blooms or discolors for two reasons; fat bloom is caused because storage temperatures rise above 75 °F/ 24 °C causing the cocoa butter to melt and separate forming a gray film, while sugar bloom is caused by excess humidity which causes the sugar to dissolve from the chocolate creating a different type of gray film.
Wrap chocolate and store it away from sunlight between 54-68°F/12-20°C with a relative humidity of no more than 70%.