Monday, August 13, 2007

Chocolate Linguistics Part 2:
Cocoa Mass v. Cocoa Solids

The problem with attaching the suffix "Part 1" to anything, aside from the Mel Brooksian implication, is the disappointment that results when a sequel does not follow. I learned this last year when my free association on Lindor Truffles, Chocolate Conundrum #1, was lost to follow-up.

However, a "Part 2" unprompted by the promise of a "Part 1" is an unexpected and exciting thing. In light of the current brouhaha over the FDA's labeling standards for chocolate (which have an impact on what can and cannot legally be called "chocolate" in the US), I think it's important to continue defining our terms. I asked three chocolate-industry experts:

In your own words, what's the difference between "cocoa mass" and "cocoa solids"?

Ed Seguine
Vice President of Research and Development at San Francisco chocolate-maker Guittard and ranking official in the Don't Mess with Our Chocolate campaign

Cacao mass (also called "chocolate liquor" in the US and called kakao mass or just mass in Germany and several European countries) + added cocoa butter = % Cacao. Cacao mass (also called cocoa mass) is chocolate liquor.

Cocoa solids is not a term frequently used. In legislation and regulation it refers to the non-fat solids found in chocolate liquor / cocoa mass

Seneca Klassen
Co-owner of Bay Area chocolate cafe Bittersweet and international advocate of chocolate education

Cocoa mass is the portion of any finished chocolate that came directly from the fermented, dried cacao seed. This may include both cocoa solids (see below) and additional cocoa butter added by the chocolate maker to manipulate the finish and texture of the final product. Percentage listings on bars represent this overall mass, which is one of the factors making cocoa mass percentage a confusing consumer one but the chocolate maker really knows the ratio of solids to fat in the mass of the bar.

Cocoa solids are the non-fatty portion of the cacao seed—usually 45-50% by mass, depending on the environmental origin and genetics of the seed. Cocoa solids are particularly interesting for their heavy concentrations of flavinols and other antioxidants, demonstrating some compelling health benefits in recent studies.

Sam Madell
Chocolate maker at Tava in Australia and advocate of real chocolate in the South Pacific

COCOA MASS - in my vocabulary, cocoa mass is what's left behind when you remove the cocoa butter from cocoa liquor. In other words, cocoa mass is "the brown stuff". Cocoa mass can come in pressed form, in which case it is usually called "press cake" ... or it can come in powdered form, in which case it is "cocoa powder".

An important point to note is that press cake or cocoa powder inevitably has some fat (cocoa butter) in it, usually in fairly substantial amounts, ranging from about 5 - 25%. For this reason, the whole concept of cocoa mass is somewhat abstract, or even "philosophical" - because you're not likely to ever come across pure cocoa mass with no cocoa butter in it. However, you can easily find cocoa butter with no cocoa mass in it (i.e white chocolate).

To me, understanding the absence of cocoa mass is important in getting to grips with the whole cocoa butter question. My definition of "cocoa mass" is, admittedly, a contentious use of the term, and I know that most people consider cocoa liquor and cocoa mass to be the same thing. But the term "cocoa mass", for me, provides a necessary answer to the following question: A cocoa nib is made up of cocoa butter, and what else? Cocoa mass, I say! (Others might say cocoa solids, which I define differently, below).

COCOA SOLIDS - can refer to any cocoa constituent, including cocoa butter, cocoa mass, cocoa liquor, or any blend of these. I reject the idea that cocoa butter is not a cocoa solid, for the simple reason that one of the defining and unique characteristics of cocoa butter is that it is solid at room temperature. "Chocolate" is a solid food, and the thing that gives it its unique texture and solidity is cocoa butter.

Although many people use the term "cocoa solids" to mean what I would call "cocoa mass", I've got the Australian and New Zealand food labelling standards to back me up here. For example, Cadbury Dream white chocolate is labelled "23% cocoa solids" - which illustrates that, in Australia at least, cocoa butter is legally considered a cocoa solid. I've found this usage to be totally consistent across all Australian chocolate labels, which is one of the reasons that I use the terms cocoa solids and cocoa mass the way I do.

(Photos: Jairus Cobb)


Blogger The Stone Family Band said...


I just thought that I'd write and tell you that my name is Emily Stone also. I wanted to share that tid-bit of info with you. Thanks!

8:36 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Julie said...

That was really helpful, although I can see why there is confusion with this chocolate terminology. I think I'll have to refer back here to keep it all straight.

9:01 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...

This was very helpful. My boyfriend and I have cut sugar out of our diet and found some Chocolate Liquor at a health food store that claimed to be just unsweetened cocoa. He loves it and hasn't felt any adverse effects. I'll encourage him to continue eating it now that I know there's no sugar yet probably cocoa butter which he needs in order to gain weight. Thank you for the thorough information.

12:05 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if the chocolate bar says 77%, is it 77% cocoa mass or cocoa solid...or what i really want to know is do you remove your cocoa butter, assume a 25% cocoa butter retention, and base your recipe on that? In a Guiitard 75% bar, would you use press cake and cocoa butter? It is very confusing! :) Thank you...

12:09 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, it is not that confusing at all... Laws should be quite exact, so here in EU you talk about total cocoa solids, fat free cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Using these terms it is quite clear that the cocoa mass in ingredient lists contains fat free cocoa solids (proteins, ...) and cocoa butter.

IMO cocoa solids means waterfree cocoa constituents, hence solids- This can be fat or proteins, ashes, carbohydrates, fibres, etc....

9:23 AM GMT-5  

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