Shopping for Chocolate

As the top-selling dessert flavor, chocolate is on every pastry chef's shopping list.

But chocolate purchasing has taken a sophisticated and complex turn with the influx of more producers, upgraded product lines and premium brands.

Labels listing cacao content and the origin of the beans are further complicating the process. However, the basics are the same: operators can buy chocolate in many forms; powdered cocoa, pistoles (buttons), chips, chunks, pellets, bars and blocks. Each is categorized by its percentage of chocolate liquor (ground nibs or heart of the cacao bean).

Unsweetened chocolate is 99% chocolate liquor. This variety has no sugar added, making it very dark and bitter. It is used only in baking and cooking.

Milk chocolate replaces some of the chocolate liquor with milk or milk solids; it contains about 20% cocoa solids. Its sweeter flavor and smooth texture make it a favorite of the candy industry.

White chocolate is made from cocoa butter mixed with sugar, milk solids and vanilla. It contains no chocolate liquor.

Bittersweet is unsweetened chocolate with sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla added; it is 35% to over 70% chocolate liquor.

Semisweet chocolate is similar in its content of sugar, chocolate liquor and cocoa solids to bittersweet; it can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Cocoa is pulverized from cocoa solids that have had the cocoa butter removed.

Sweet or dark chocolate contains between 15 and 35 percent chocolate liquor; it's lighter in flavor than bittersweet and semisweet but has a similar dark color.

is bittersweet, milk or white chocolate that has a higher percentage of cocoa butter. It's used in doughs and batters to add moisture and creaminess and has excellent coating qualities for candies and cake icings.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

Managing Your Business
studient orientation

When an alma mater and an employer are one in the same, it can be a win-win for both the employee and the school. Here’s how two students’ experiences with campus dining—one positive and the other negative—led them on a path to their current jobs.

A Feast to Remember

NC State University’s main campus in Raleigh, N.C. was built on farmland given to the state by Richard Stanhope Pullen; every spring, students gather to celebrate those agricultural roots through Farm Feast, an outdoor celebration with food and music. Design major Christin King remembers her first Farm Feast vividly: “...

FSD Resources