Cocoa powder is basically de-fatted chocolate. A cacao bean contains an average of 53% cocoa butter, a natural fat. Coenraad van Houten’s hydraulic press reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half, creating a “cake” that was pulverized into cocoa powder: Van Houten introduced a further improvement by treating the powder with alkaline salts so that the powder would mix more easily with water.
Good quality chocolate has a higher percentage of chocolate paste and lower amount of sugar. Standards in the U. S. require dark chocolate to contain at least 35% chocolate paste; in Europe the requirement is for a minimum of 43%. With the increase in popularity of dark chocolate, many bars contain at least 60% and often 70 to 80% chocolate paste. Dark chocolate is increasing in popularity as can also be seen in the recent introduction of dark chocolate M & Ms.
The first milk chocolate came from Switzerland, land of dairies. In 1875, a chocolatier, Daniel Peter, used the condensed milk from Henri Nestlé’s infant formula to unite chocolate and milk, producing an immediate and long-lasting success. European milk chocolate generally hews to this formula, using condensed milk, whereas American and British milk chocolate contain a milk and sugar mixture.
Today milk chocolate is the most popular chocolate in the world, although the current increase in epicurean dark chocolates combined with a growing number of chocolate connoisseurs could be cutting into its popularity. Milk chocolate contains less chocolate paste than dark chocolate and therefore does not have as strong a chocolate flavor.
White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar and vanilla. Some white chocolate contains no cocoa butter at all—vegetable fat and sugar are used.