Chocolate is a popular gift on Valentine’s Day. According to the Nielsen Company, Valentine’s Day is the third busiest holiday for chocolate sales, following Halloween and Easter.
More than 70 million pounds of chocolate are purchased each year and offered as Valentine’s Day gifts. Chocolate connoisseurs can learn more about the different types of chocolate to find the one their loved one will find most appealing.
• Milk chocolate: Milk chocolate is produced with low levels of cocoa and high amounts of sugar and milk. In addition, it contains cocoa butter and chocolate liquor. Milk chocolate often is made up of 3.39 percent butterfat, 10 percent chocolate liquor and 12 percent milk solids.
• Semi-sweet chocolate: Semi-sweet chocolate is largely an American creation and term. It contains at least 35 percent cocoa solids and is darker than sweet dark chocolate. The amount of sugar varies across brands.
• Bittersweet chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate typically contains at least 50 percent chocolate liquor, but some will have between 70 and 80 percent. The sugar content is unregulated, so one manufacturer’s bittersweet may not be as bitter as another’s.
• Baking chocolate: Also known as bitter chocolate, this is pure chocolate liquor made from ground cocoa beans. It may look like chocolate, but it is used in recipes where it is combined with sugar. It should not be eaten on its own.
• White chocolate: White chocolate has cocoa butter but no chocolate liquor or cocoa products. Therefore, it is not truly chocolate.
• Candy coating chocolate: This has no cocoa butter and uses vegetable or palm oils in the recipe. It often is used in dipping or enrobing because of its excellent melting ability.
• Couverture chocolate: In the United States, the ideal standard for couverture chocolate involves a minimum of 35 percent cocoa solids and 31 percent cocoa butter. This chocolate is tempered and used when coating ingredients or dipping items in chocolate.
Chocolate shines on Valentine’s Day. Gift givers can select a chocolate variety that appeals most to their recipients’ palates.