What is Couverture Chocolate and Why is it Special?

What is Couverture Chocolate and Why is it Special?

Published by Chocolatier Jason Vishnefske on 24th Aug 2022

What is Couverture Chocolate and Why is it Special?

Couverture chocolate is unlike your common chocolate you grab at the grocery store as it is ground to a much finer texture in production and has a higher percentage of cocoa butter when compared to the other ingredients. The chocolate is better for artisan chocolate making due to the fluidity the extra cocoa butter offers.

Couverture Chocolate for baking and candy making

Couverture Chocolate with plenty of cocoa butter is ideal for candy making.

It’s one thing to work with some chocolate you grab at the supermarket or health food store bulk bin, it is quite another to get your hands on the best chocolate that every baker swoons over; I’m talking about that gorgeous, glossy, sweet and exotic couverture chocolate. I want to dive right into this chocolate, literally and educationally, as it’s a pure delight to work with and the very best to eat.

What is couverture chocolate?

To answer this question a basic understanding of what makes one type of chocolate different from the others will help. First and most importantly is the cocoa bean which gives us: 1. chocolate liquor, which is the ground up smooth melted state of the nib of the cacao bean and it contains equal parts cocoa butter and solids; 2. cocoa butter, which is the fatty component of the bean. Note that dry cocoa solids; which is the nonfat part of the cocoa bean fiber if pressed, and that is basically powder. From these components, different types of chocolate are produced. By varying the time and temperature of the bean during the roasting process and the amounts of cacao ingredients will have an effect on flavor. Milk chocolate is solid chocolate made with powdered, liquid dried, or condensed milk powdered. White chocolate is made of sugar, milk powder, and cocoa butter without the cocoa fiber solids (dark part). Ruby chocolate is the most recent to be created and released for public use in 2017; it’s made from the cocoa bean which is handled in a specific way and that gives it its distinct color and flavor. Ruby is available as both couverture and baking chips so the label will offer the differentiation. Dark chocolate is produced using higher percentages of cocoa liquor with most all fat content coming from cocoa butter instead of milk and cocoa butter. Dark chocolate has many different degrees of cocoa percentages which in turn results semisweet, bittersweet, unsweetened or baking chocolate (couverture chocolate can be any one of these types - cocoa solids alone does not determine couverture grade or quality - texture related to smoothness does also). Couverture chocolate is not a technical term as much as it is a perception of the experience of chocolate eating and working with it.

The name given to a specific class of high-quality chocolate is couverture (this is a European word that has recently become popular in the USA). Most chocolate chips at the store usually have the same base ingredients as couverture: cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, along with additives, such as, vanilla, lecithin, or milk powder. Couverture chocolate is unlike your common chocolate you grab at the grocery store; however, as it is ground to a much finer texture in production and has a higher percentage of cocoa butter when compared to the other ingredients. These two differences of added cocoa butter and finer milling give it superior flavor and texture that makes it ideal for tempering and using to enrobe truffles, fruits, cookies, and other candies. Common standards for couverture chocolate are that it must contain a minimum of 35% cocoa solids and 31% cocoa butter. 

The couverture chocolate types offered by our company, Santa Barbara Chocolate, are often only 3 ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, cane sugar, and cocoa butter. Not only does our dark couverture contain high cocoa solids of cocoa butter to make it perfect for tempering, it’s also GMO free, USDA organic, kosher parve, and contains no soy or vanilla. No extra, unnecessary ingredients are needed in these professional chocolates. Just clean ingredients that make for a delicious chocolate you and your family can eat right out of the bag!

I find that couverture chocolate is the easiest to work with in my kitchen when compared to baking chips. The best way to melt it down, or temper it, is with a double boiler and monitoring the temperature at around 88-89ºF. However, if you are not a professional chocolatier, don’t be intimidated as this chocolate melts more evenly and easier than regular chocolate given its high quality ingredients. A novice in the kitchen can beautifully and easily melt it down in a microwave simply by adjusting to a low power setting and at each minute interval, stop and stir until your chocolate is melted entirely to a smooth, syrupy consistency. The extra cocoa butter and cocoa solids make this chocolate perfect for dipping and candy making as it sets up as a gorgeous high gloss appearance that will entice your audience. I also personally love using this chocolate in baking recipes, for example, cookies, cakes, and sweet-breads (the extra cocoa butter in the chocolate adds to the flavor and is not an issue). Couverture offers superior flavor to the recipe, but when you add the solid couverture chips on top of your pre-baked goods, once baked, it will give a more sophisticated looking result.