If you love to eat and bake with chocolate then you need to understand the difference between Couverture chocolate and Compound. This article will tell you all you need to know.
At the most simple level, Couverture is real chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter, while Compound is a chocolate-like product, often brightly coloured, made with vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter.
Couverture is high-quality chocolate used by fine chocolatiers and pastry chefs because of its superior taste, texture, and appearance. Compound is candy coating ("candy melts") used in the commercial bakery and confectionery industries, as well as home chefs, as a coating for candies, cookies, fruits, and other items. It can be chocolate-flavoured and coloured brown to look like chocolate or it can be brightly coloured for visual impact.
Here are four more ways Couverture and Compound are different:
Couverture chocolate has a high percentage of cocoa butter (usually around 30-40%). It contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar but its defining characteristic is the higher ratio of cocoa butter. This high cocoa butter content gives couverture a smooth and creamy texture, enhancing the overall mouthfeel of the finished product. Learn more about Couverture in our blog What is Couverture Chocolate?
Compound is made with vegetable fats (such as palm kernel oil or hydrogenated oils) instead of cocoa butter. It typically contains cocoa powder or chocolate flavouring, vegetable fats, sugar, and other ingredients like emulsifiers. Compound is not legally allowed to be labelled as "chocolate" on packaging, but instead is called "cocoa-flavoured candy" ,"candy", chocolatey", or "coating".
For something to be legally called "chocolate", the only fat in the ingredients can be cocoa butter. Couverture chocolate contains extra cocoa butter, which gives it a smoother texture, a glossy appearance when tempered, and better melting properties than regular chocolate. Couverture's high cocoa butter content contributes to a more luxurious and rich flavour and a smooth mouth-feel. Cocoa butter is the most expensive ingredient in couverture, which is why couverture costs more. Read our article "The Marvels of Cocoa Butter" for more facts about cocoa butter.
Compound uses cheaper fats like vegetable, coconut, or palm oils. As a result, it is much less expensive than couverture, it has a different texture, often slightly waxy or greasy, and a less pronounced chocolate flavour compared to couverture chocolate. You can feel the waxy finish in your mouth when you eat Compound. You can't miss it.
Couverture chocolate is favoured by professional chocolatiers and pastry chefs due to its superior quality and versatility. It is commonly used for molding, dipping, enrobing, and creating fine chocolate confections. Couverture's high cocoa butter content allows it to set with a shiny finish and a satisfying snap, but only if it's tempered.
Compound is often used in mass-produced chocolate products or for applications where cost, stability, and ease of use are prioritized over premium chocolate characteristics. It can be found in chocolate coatings, inexpensive baking chips, and some chocolate-flavoured confectionery.
Because it contains extra cocoa butter, Couverture requires tempering to achieve the desired firm texture and glossy appearance. Tempering involves carefully melting and cooling the chocolate to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals, resulting in a glossy finish and a firm snap. Read all about tempering in our article Why Does Chocolate Need To Be Tempered?
Compound does not require tempering since it uses vegetable fats that have different melting properties. It can be melted and used directly in molding and dipping without the need for precise tempering techniques. Once melted, it will set up and harden quickly.
Because we are fine cocoa confectioners, Cococo only uses the best quality couverture chocolate made from sustainably sourced Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa butter and cocoa. Read more about our chocolate in the article What Makes Cococo Chocolate So Special?