Mass appeal: The story behind the cocoa liquor used in our chocolates
Hard to find and rarely used, pure cocoa mass can take chocolate to a whole new level when used in creative ways. Here, we unwrap this intriguing ingredient
At Artisan du Chocolat, we delight in doing things differently, whether that’s experimenting with daring flavour combinations or dreaming up colourfully eccentric aesthetics for our eco-friendly packaging. The same can also be said for our choice of ingredients. For instance, did you know that we craft a number of our irresistible chocolates using cocoa liquor, the little-known offshoot of the cocoa bean?
To explain more about chocolate liquor, we need to delve into the chocolate-making process itself. Once ripe cocoa pods are harvested, their cocoa beans are removed to ferment and dry. After being cleaned, the beans are lightly roasted to develop their enticing flavour, before their husks and shells are removed in a process called winnowing, revealing cocoa nibs. Grinding the roasted nibs produces a paste known as cocoa liquor – essentially, pure cocoa mass. This liquor can be further processed to create either cocoa butter or cocoa powder, or it can be used as it is, as an ingredient in chocolate craft.
But why use liquor at all? After all, the majority of chocolate brands don’t. Our Chief Chocolate Adventurer Anne Weyns reveals more. “Using cocoa liquor allows us to make different types of chocolate in small quantities that we could not otherwise obtain – for example, buffalo milk chocolate,” she says, adding that the ingredient allows cocoa artisans to be more creative, opening a new world of chocolate possibility. “From a taste perspective, the process of refining the liquor directly with other ingredients, such as matcha powder, ensures that the two mix so intimately that it delivers the best possible taste.”
Cocoa liquor is not as easy to find as cocoa beans, meaning there are fewer sources available to chocolatiers. While many brands use cocoa from West Africa, our team sources sustainable cocoa liquor from Colombia and Latin America. Our suppliers work closely alongside small-scale cocoa farmers, offering training and education to ensure that the fine cacao we use in our chocolate is produced sustainably. “From a fairness point of view, we try to keep as much of the value chain in the country where the cocoa is grown, which the use of cocoa liquor helps to do,” says Anne.
At Artisan du Chocolat, cocoa liquor is mostly used in the crafting of our delectable chocolate bars, such as our Matcha Green Tea White Bar, our Crème Brulee Milk Chocolate Bar and our Almond Milk Bar. “We also use a small amount of liquor – which is 100% chocolate – to boost the cocoa notes in some of our truffles and couture chocolates,” says Anne. “This intensifies the chocolate taste.”