Chocolate and Nut Allergies
The Chocolate by Leopold’s dark chocolate is lactose free. The company does, however, manufacture all its chocolates on equipment used for peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soybeans, and wheat. Its chocolates may contain nuts or nut traces, alcohol, and dairy products. Although no additional sugar is added to the dark chocolate, some of the ingredients for fillings contain sugar, nuts or other ingredients. If you have specific dietary restrictions or questions about our chocolate candy products, please feel free to contact us and we’ll gladly answer your questions to the best of our ability.
Potential Causes of Chocolate Allergy
The most common triggers of food allergies in chocolate products are nuts, cow’s milk, wheat or gluten, soybeans, or corn.
Some chemicals found in chocolate may cause side effects such as headaches. The side effects are not due to allergic reactions but sensitivity to these chemicals. Chemicals in chocolate that may cause reactions include caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and tyramine.
What is chocolate, and from where does it come?
A tropical plant called cacao produces a seed that is processed to create chocolate. The majority of the world’s cacao beans come from the West African countries of Ghana on the Ivory Coast and Nigeria. Somewhere in history a spelling error resulted in the change from cacao to cocoa, as the beans are known today.
How is chocolate made?
In these countries, workers cut the fruit or pods of the cacao tree, open the pods and scoop out the beans. They then allow the beans to ferment and dry before cleaning, roasting and hulling them. After this, they remove the shells; the remains are called “nibs.” Much like coffee, blends of nibs produce various flavors and colors.
The next part of the process is grinding the nibs to release the cocoa butter. The heat from grinding causes the mixture of cocoa butter and finely ground nibs to melt and form a free-flowing substance known as chocolate liquor. This chocolate liquor combined with cocoa butter and other ingredients results in the different varieties of chocolate.
What is conching?
Because raw unprocessed chocolate is gritty, grainy and unsuitable for eating, Swiss chocolate manufacturer Rudolph Lindt created a process of rolling and kneading chocolate that gives it a smoother and richer quality. This process is called conching. The term ‘conching’ comes from the shell-like shape of the rollers used to knead the chocolate. The longer chocolate (and any ingredients such as milk, vanilla, or extra cocoa butter added to it) is conched, the smoother it feels on your tongue.
What kinds of chocolate exist?
Adding or removing certain properties from chocolate liquor results in different varieties and flavors of chocolate. Each has its own chemical makeup that produces differences in flavor, reactions to heat and to moisture. This means it is extremely important to pay attention to the type of chocolate for which a recipe calls.
- Unsweetened or Baking Chocolate — cooled and hardened chocolate liquor, used primarily in recipes or as a garnish
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate or Sweet Cooking Chocolate — has extra cocoa butter and sugar added, used primarily in recipes
- Milk Chocolate — chocolate liquor with more cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla added; the most popular form of chocolate; used primarily for eating
- Cocoa — chocolate liquor with most of the cocoa butter removed, a fine powder, picks up moisture and odors from other products, must be stored tightly covered in a cool, dry place
- White Chocolate — a misnomer as it contains no cocoa solids, a smooth ivory or beige color, primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla; some contain vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter, could be considered imitation; the most fragile form of chocolate, especially when heated or melted
- Decorator’s or Confectioner’s Chocolate — not true chocolate, but a chocolate flavored candy used for coating items such as strawberries; created to melt easily and harden quickly
What are the white, blotchy areas on my chocolate bar?
When your chocolate develops a white, filmy residue, it is called a bloom. The bloom is the result of cocoa butter separating from the cocoa solids when chocolate is stored in a warm area. If you happen to purchase a chocolate candy bar that has this bloom, don’t let the sales person tell you it hasn’t altered the taste because it has.
On the other hand, if you find bloom on chocolate covered nuts, it is more likely that the oil from the nuts has risen through the chocolate. In this case, the bloom will be much more visible, the taste of the candy will not have changed, and you may easily wipe the bloom off the chocolate. (Chocolates by Leopold uses a higher viscosity chocolate to help prevent nut oils from blooming.)
What is the best way to store chocolate?
Choose a dark pantry or cabinet that is around 68-72 ℉. Kept at this temperature and assuming it is not covering fruit or other perishables, chocolate has a shelf life of about a year. Freezing chocolate will result in a greater tendency to bloom. If you have no other option but freezing, let it warm gradually to room temperature before eating or cooking with it.
What is lecithin, and why is it in my chocolate?
Lecithin is an emulsifier used to reduce the viscosity or improve the flow of chocolate in the manufacturing process. It also helps keep the sugars from crystallizing in milk chocolates.
Below are some terms and definitions relating to the chocolate and confection industry. Use our chocolate glossary to learn more about the fascinating and complex world of chocolate! If you want to learn more terms relating to the candy industry, download and print the following:
Bittersweet Chocolate — used primarily in baking, a slightly sweetened dark chocolate; contains between 25-50% cacao content, a little sweeter than unsweetened chocolate, but with less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate
Cacao — name of the plant and seeds from which chocolate is produced in its natural and pure unprocessed form
Cacao Liquor — pure chocolate in liquid form, contains both cocoa solids and butter
Cacao Pods — egg-shaped fruit of the cacao tree that grows from the trunk and largest branches; each 6 and 12 inch pod holds between 30 and 40 beans about 0.5 inch in length
Caffeine Content — chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine. The average serving of chocolate has less caffeine than a cup of decaffeinated coffee, so chocolate may be consumed day or night by most people on caffeine-restricted diets. The caffeine content of chocolate compares to these common foods as follows:
|Bittersweet Chocolate||1 ounce||5-10 mg|
|Milk Chocolate||1 ounce||5 mg|
|Cocoa||6 ounces prepared||10 mg|
|Coffee||8 ounces||100-150 mg|
|Cola||12 ounce can||50 mg|
|Tea||8 ounces||35 mg|
Chocolate — food product made from the fermented and roasted seeds (beans) of the cacao tree. The nib (hulled meat of the bean) is ground and processed into various forms for eating and drinking. For thousands of years, chocolate was a beverage, xocoat. People have eaten it in solid form only since 1847.
Chocolate candy is generally mixed with sugar, vanilla, lecithin as an emulsifier, and sometimes other flavorings. Milk chocolate contains milk. Quality manufacturers may add cocoa butter for richness and smoothness. Cooking chocolate is unsweetened and unflavored. Quality eating chocolate is categorized as follows:
|Product||Chocolate Liquor Content||Most Commonly Found 1|
|Milk Chocolate||30% – 49%||33%, 43%|
|Semisweet Chocolate||50% – 69%||50%, 60%, 65%|
|Bittersweet Chocolate||70% – 100%||70%, 75%, 80%, 85%|
|White Chocolate||0% Chocolate Liquor but at least 33% cocoa butter||Not Applicable|
The word chocolate may have come from the Spaniards combining the Mayan word chocol meaning hot and the Aztec word atl meaning water to produce chocolatl. (The proper pronunciation of tl is “te.”) It is possible the Spaniards created this word instead of using the Aztec word cacahuatl, because “caca” in Spanish is a vulgar word. The True History of Chocolate authors, Sophie Coe and Michael Coe, suggest that the Spaniards substituted the Mayan chocol because they were uncomfortable with a word that began with “caca.”
Chocolate Liquor — unsweetened chocolate that is made from the finely ground nib of the cacao bean
Chocoholic — a true chocolate lover, addicted to chocolate who feels life would not be the same without chocolate
Cocoa — another term for cacao, perhaps the result of a misspelling by 18th century English traders; now cocoa generally refers to the powder produced by the Dutch Process removing all the fat
Cocoa Butter — the vegetable fat extracted from pure cacao paste during the process of refining. It is used along with cacao solids to produce chocolate.
Cocoa Powder — powder of unsweetened cocoa is the result of grinding cocoa solids into powder after the fat or cocoa butter has been removed
Couverture — very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%), used for dipping, coating, molding, and garnishing
Dark Chocolate — the FDA does not define dark chocolate; semisweet and bittersweet chocolate must contain 35% or more chocolate liquor; a 70% cocoa chocolate is considered quite dark, 85% and even 88% cocoa dark chocolates have become quite popular for dark chocolate lovers
Dutching — process invented in the early 19th century by Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten to treat cocoa powder with alkali in order to neutralize its natural acids, increase its solubility, enhance its color, and smooth its flavor; became the basis for modern chocolate
Ganache — a rich, silky chocolate mixture made by combining chopped semisweet chocolate and boiling cream then stirring until smooth; proportions of chocolate to cream vary depending on usage; may be flavored with fruits, spices and different liquors
Hot Chocolate — beverage that contains cocoa powder and milk or water, normally with more sugar than chocolate
Milk Chocolate — best known chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk added; the FDA requires a 10% concentration of chocolate liquor; Europeans a minimum of 25% cocoa solids
Some fine chocolate manufacturers are making 60% milk chocolate in which the milk replaces the sugar instead of replacing the chocolate. The main ingredients of milk chocolate are sugar, milk or milk powder, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and vanilla.
Pure Chocolate — a term created in Europe after the EU designated food definitions and required chocolate products to list the amount of cacao content; in Japan signifies the chocolate with specific cocoa, cocoa butter, sucrose, and lecithin content
Refining — the process of reducing the size of the cocoa solids and sugar crystals
Sweet Chocolate — the official US term for dark chocolate, contains at least 15% liquor content
Tempering — the process of heating and cooling chocolate so the cocoa butter reaches its most stable crystal form; gives the chocolate a smooth sheen and crisp bite
Truffle — confection with a chocolate Ganache center coated in chocolate; three main types: American, European and Swiss; first created in France in 1895; available in every imaginable flavor; named for the exotic and expensive French mushroom
Unsweetened Chocolate – Chocolate that has no other added ingredients. This chocolate is mainly used for baking and contains up to 75% cocoa solids with no added sugar or milk products. Also known as baking chocolate, bitter chocolate or plain chocolate.
White Chocolate — made from combining sweetened cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, and sometimes vanilla; does not contain chocolate liquor; instead contains cocoa butter (at least 32% to be of good quality)—thus the debate about whether white chocolate is a “true chocolate”
Chocolate For Health
A few bites of dark chocolate a day and your health will improve—or so the researchers say. Like everything, moderation is key. Treating yourself to one square (a half ounce) of dark chocolate a day provides flavonoids, antioxidants that may clear free radicals, protect against inflammation and protect your heart.
Look for dark chocolate that is at least 60 to 70 percent cocoa. Chocolate by Leopold’s dark chocolate is 72% cocoa and lactose free, making it a very healthy treat!
Is Dark Chocolate Really Healthy?
Eating chocolate may actually be good for you according to recent studies. Research has found that raw or minimally processed cocoa contains flavonoids similar to those found in green tea. These preliminary studies have linked these antioxidants to health benefits such as:
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Improving circulation
- Lowering death rate from heart disease
- Improving function of endothelial cells that line the blood vessels
- Defending against destructive molecules called free radicals that trigger cancer, heart disease and stroke
- Improving digestion and stimulating kidneys
- Treating patients with anemia, kidney stones and poor appetite
Of course, eating large amounts of chocolate is still bad for you and may cause weight gain. Taken in smaller quantities, however, dark chocolate might prove to be very beneficial to your health. It depends on the quantity and type of chocolate that you are eating. Numerous studies show the positive effects of chocolate consumption on groups of participants.
For more information on the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa, please refer to the following articles:
>> Ahhhh! Better Than Red Wine Or Green Tea, Cocoa Froths With Cancer-Preventing Compounds, Cornell Food Scientists Say
>> The Sweet Truth About Chocolate and Your Heart
Guide To Buying Chocolates
To ensure that you are purchasing quality chocolates:
- Check the ingredients label. Be sure that the list includes chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, the two most essential ingredients for fine chocolates.
- Look for a glossy, shiny appearance, not dull.
- Search out a smooth, velvety texture on the tongue that denotes a superior chocolate. It should melt easily. Reject a gritty or sandy feel.
- Check for a slight snap when biting it. A good chocolate would never be soggy or mushy.
Chocolates Make Wonderful Gifts
Since the advent of chocolate, people have given it as a gift to loved ones. It inspires romance and much more. Today chocolates are used for wedding favors, Christmas gifts, Valentine’s Day, birth commemorations, and many more special moments. Discover Chocolates by Leopold gourmet chocolates. Give your loved one a special gift on any occasion or enjoy eating it by yourself or sharing it with a friend.