Most of the bakers would have been accustomed with the word ‘couverture’ but have you, in all your years of baking, ever wondered, what exactly is couverture and how is it made? Well, you have come to the right place!!
Couverture is a high-quality chocolate that is darker, creamier, and typically more expensive than standard chocolate or compound chocolate. Its high quality stems primarily from the sourcing and use of higher-quality cacao beans, which are finely ground to achieve a smooth and consistent flavour.
Couverture has a higher cocoa butter content, which makes it suitable for moulding, coating, and dipping, and its glossy appearance denotes its higher price and quality. In order to be labeled dark couverture, the chocolate must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, which includes at least 31% pure cocoa butter and no less than 2.5% of dry non-fat cocoa solids. Milk Couvertures must have a minimum of 25% cocoa solids.
When we compare couverture’s to compounds, compounds typically don’t use cocoa butter at all, instead they use vegetable oil as their major fat source. This helps keep it stable at higher temperatures but it means that all the goodness of taste and health benefits of cocoa butter (and chocolate) are lost.
So, this is how a chocolate is made :
1. The cacao tree is used to harvest cacao beans. The beans are found within pods that hang from trees and are most commonly found between 20 degrees north and south of the Equator.
2. In preparation for fermentation, the beans are hand-cleaned. They are then piled on the ground or placed in cascading boxes, and covered with banana leaves for 2 to 9 days to ferment.
3. The fermented beans are dried for 7-14 days on wooden boards or bamboo mats in the hot sun, while being raked and turned over on a regular basis. The beans are graded, quality-checked, packaged, and shipped once they have dried.
4. After washing, the beans are roasted at low temperatures, either separately or blended with other origins. The shells of the bean are removed from the inner ‘nibs,’ and the nibs are finely ground into cocoa mass.
5. Cocoa mass transforms into cocoa powder and cocoa butter under high pressure. Chocolate is made by combining cocoa butter and sweetener and mixing, grinding, and kneading them together. Conching is a term for a method that includes heating and aeration. This phase determines the chocolate’s purity, as well as its aroma and flavour. The type of chocolate being made defines the required ingredients.
6. The chocolate is refined until it is fully smooth, with longer conching producing a smoother chocolate.
7. The chocolate is cooled, which means that it is heated to a certain temperature to get the cocoa butter to its most stable state. It can be shaped into a variety of different shapes from here.