So what exactly is couverture chocolate, anyway?
Simply put, couverture chocolate is the best quality chocolate, the type of chocolate that professional pastry chefs and artisan chocolatiers use.
Couverture chocolate is real chocolate, the finest quality of chocolate that contains added cocoa butter, which is fat derived from the cocoa bean. It is this extra cocoa butter that improves taste, texture and mouthfeel of couverture chocolate, because cocoa butter melts at below body temperature. Cocoa butter is also amazing because it is the only vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature but liquid at body temperature, which is the reason why real chocolate literally melts in your mouth (and your oven). Cocoa butter is the most expensive ingredient in chocolate. This is why couverture chocolate is generally more expensive than other types of chocolate because it contains a lot of cocoa butter.
As a fat, cocoa butter is amazing — it has a crystalline structure that is polymorphic, which means the fat crystals in the cocoa butter behave differently at different temperatures. This is why couverture chocolate needs to be tempered (read below for more).
What makes Cococo couverture chocolate so special?
First, each of our chocolate types (bittersweet, semisweet, milk, and white) are absolutely delicious, perfectly balanced with a silky smooth mouthfeel.
Second, our chocolate is proprietary — which means it is made only for us. You can only buy our particular recipes of chocolate from Cococo online or in our retail stores (currently our retail stores are closed due to the pandemic. Read our Covid-19 response here). We do not sell our bulk chocolate in grocery stores or bulk stores.
Third, our chocolate is fairly traded and sustainable. Cococo Chocolatiers uses only certified sustainable and fair trade couverture chocolate made with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa and cocoa butter to help drive positive change for farm communities in West Africa.
What is tempering?
Tempering is an essential step when using couverture chocolate for making a smooth, glossy, and evenly coloured coating with a good snap for dipping or decorating bonbons. Did you know that the process of tempering, in both steel and chocolate, is the same? It's true.
As we mentioned, couverture chocolate is very fine quality chocolate that has added cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a fat. As a fat, cocoa butter is amazing — it has a crystalline structure that is polymorphic, which means the fat crystals in the cocoa butter behave differently at different temperatures. There are 6 kinds of identified fat crystals in chocolate, the one that is our best friend during tempering is called Beta 5.
The purpose of tempering chocolate is to use time, temperature, and motion to get the fat crystals to transform and behave they way you want them to. This process is also called pre-crystallization — the chocolate is heated, then cooled, and stirred constantly to distribute the temperature until only the desired type of fat crystal - Beta 5 - remains. When this happens, the Beta 5 fat crystals in the cocoa butter "seed" or persuade all of the other fat crystals to change to Beta 5 as well. It's kind of like how frost forms and spreads across a wet window on a cold cold day.
The formation of Beta 5 crystals in the chocolate guarantees stability - a perfect finished product with a satin gloss and a hard snap. Like tempered steel. Saying that chocolate is "tempered" is the same as saying the chocolate is "crystallized" Confused? That's okay, join the club.
If you'd like to try your hand at tempering chocolate, then read our guide How to Temper Chocolate Using the Microwave.