Barley-malt syrup: Made by drying sprouted barley, mixing it with water, and then cooking it until it forms a syrup, barley-malt syrup has a distinct flavor that anyone who ate malted milk balls as a child will recognize. Recchiuti uses it on our Honeycomb Malt chocolate.
Bergamot: A pear-shaped orange whose rind yields an essential oil which is used to fragrance Earl Grey tea, among other things. We use it in our Bergamot Tea chocolate.
Burnt Caramel: Caramelized sugar cooked far beyond the point most recipes would tell you to stop. Smoky and dark, this has become known as Michael’s signature flavor and it is the base for several of his most popular creations, including Burnt Caramel Sauce, Fleur de Sel Caramels, Burnt Caramel Almonds and Burnt Caramel ganache.
Cacao (Theobroma cacao): A small evergreen tree native to the tropical rainforests of South America. It is now cultivated in tropical areas globally and it is typically grown with 20 degrees of the equator. The pollinated flowers of the cacao tree develop into cacao pods, the source of chocolate.
Cacao vs. Cocoa: The terms “cacao” and “cocoa” are often used interchangeably. A typically American convention refers to “cacao” as the plant and all its products before they are processed, after which they are referred to as chocolate. British English uses the word “cocoa” in place of “cacao”, but as mentioned, there are no hard fast rules for these terms and they are often used interchangeably, even within this site.
Cassis: The French word for black currant. It is a small berry related to the gooseberry and its most common use is in Crème de Cassis. We use it in our Cassis Strata confection.
Chocolate bloom: A problem with the cocoa-butter crystals that results in a dull gray, white, or matte appearance on the surface or interior of chocolate. It is usually caused by poorly established tempering, cold cooling temperatures, or storage temperatures that are too warm or fluctuating. Bloomed chocolate is safe to eat and does not affect the flavor of the chocolate.
Chocolate liquor: Cacao nibs that have been ground into a paste. The processing combines two components, cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Also known as cocoa liquor or cocoa mass.
Chocolate percentage: A number found on the label of better chocolates that indicates the total percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter that the chocolate contains. In general, the higher the cacao content, the more intense the chocolate flavor and the lower amount of sugar present. Also known as Cacao or Cocoa Percentage.
Cocoa beans: The seeds inside the pods of the cacao tree that are processed to make chocolate. Also known as cacao beans.
Cocoa butter: A complex fat in the cocoa bean that makes up about half its weight. It possesses four types of crystals with different melting points. Also known as cacao butter.
Cocoa nibs: Bits of cocoa bean that have been roasted and shelled. They are the raw product that is made into finished chocolate, although they can be used on their own. Also known as cacao nibs.
Cocoa powder: Cocoa liquor that has been pressed to remove most of the cocoa butter and is then ground to a fine powder. Sometimes the liquor is treated with an alkali solution that neutralizes the natural acids present. This treatment, called Dutching, was invented by the Dutch Chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houten in 1828. It makes the powder darker and milder. Today there are advocates for both types of powder, Dutch processed and natural. Here are Recchiuti we use natural (alkali-free) cocoa powder.
Couverture: French for “coating,” this term describes a finished chocolate particularly suited for dipping or molding because it contains more cocoa butter, at least 32%, making it less viscous. Virtually all of the higher-percentage chocolates fall into this category.
Dark or bittersweet chocolate: Chocolate with a percentage of chocolate liquor that ranges from 35% in standard chocolates to as much as 82% in the new chocolates. Recchiuti’s Bittersweet Bar and Fève Bar are both made with Michael Recchiuti’s proprietary blend of 85% cacao chocolate.
Dragée: Chocolate- or candy-coated nuts, usually almonds. The name dragée (dra-ZHAY) originates from the old French word “dragie,” to dredge or coat. Modern versions of the French confection are typically referred to as panned candies. Here at Recchiuti our Burnt Caramel Almonds are dragées made the old-fashioned way.
Enrobing: Pouring thin a coat of chocolate over something, such as a ganache interior.
Fève: In chocolate jargon, this French word (literally “bean”) refers to the cocoa bean or “nib” that has been roasted and shelled. It is the namesake for our Fève Bar, an 85% cacao chocolate bar sprinkled with crunchy fève bits.
Fleur de sel: Literally, “flower of salt,” these are sea salt crystals that derive their name from the delicate violet scent that develops as the salt dries. It is hand-raked and harvested from the sea salt beds of west-central France, and consists of flakes from the premium, topmost salt layer. This top layer is bleached white by the sun and lacks the sediment particles that darken the ordinary grey sea salt found in the lower layers. The marvelous flavor reflects a delicate balance of the numerous minerals and micronutrients and is used as condiment rather than as a cooking salt. Recchiuti adds a handful of fleur de sel to the Fleur de Sel Caramels in the final moments of cooking so that the salt crystals do not dissolve completely.
Force Noir: The name given to Michael’s ultra-dark chocolate, vanilla bean infused ganache. It roughly translates to “black force” in French, although the spelling is a slight variation.
Ganache: A creamy mixture of chocolate, cream and butter. It's often used as a frosting or filling. We use it in most of our chocolates and often infuse (or steep) it with fresh herbs, teas or spices (e.g. Lemon Verbena, Lavender Vanilla, Tarragon Grapefruit.)
Gelatin: A gelling agent made from natural protein which helps stabilize or thicken food. It is an ingredient in our Vanilla Bean Marshmallows.
Gianduja (or Gianduia): A finely ground smooth mixture of nuts, chocolate and additional sugar. Traditionally, made with hazelnuts, Recchiuti uses it in our Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Bar and our Piedmont Hazelnut confection.
Infused ganache: Aromatics (e.g. herbs, flowers, spices, teas and vanilla) are steeped in heated cream for as little as a few minutes or as long as overnight. This infused cream is then blended with chocolate and butter to make ganache. At Recchiuti this process takes the place of adding artificial flavorings or compounds.
Key Lime: Also known as a Mexican lime, the Key lime is smaller but more flavorful than the more common Persian lime. Although these limes are not grown exclusively in the Florida Keys, that’s where they were naturalized and that’s where the name comes from. Key lime juice is a key ingredient in Recchiuti’s Key Lime Apples and Key Lime Pears.
Lemon Verbena: Despite its lemony flavor, this herb is a relative of Mexican oregano and is native to South America. We get ours fresh from Eatwell Farm; it’s certified organic and grown right here in the San Francisco Bay area. It is the key ingredient in Recchiuti’s Lemon Verbena chocolate.
Lecithin: A soy-based emulsifier used in small quantities in the making of chocolate to yield a smoother and more fluid result.
Milk chocolate: Chocolate with a minimum of 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids, although some newer chocolates contain as much as 41%. Our Milk Chocolate Bar contains 55%; the highest percentage milk chocolate currently being made.
Nougat: A confection made with sugar or honey and roasted nuts or seeds. There are two basic nougat types, brown and white. Brown nougat is made with caramelized sugar, while white nougat is made with beaten egg whites. At Recchiuti, we make two different brown nougats for use in our confections; Sesame Nougat and cacao nib nougat (used in our Cardamom Nougat piece.)
Pâtes de Fruits: Traditional fruit jelly confections that date back to 10th Century France. In the days before refrigeration, people preserved fresh fruit by adding sugar and making it into jams and jellies. Some discovered that fruits high in pectin formed a preserve firm enough to be cut with a knife or molded into fruit shapes. And so, pâtes de fruits (pat-duh-FWEE) were born as a portable, bite-sized way to extend fresh fruit season. Today, pâtes de fruits are a staple in the French confectionery repertoire and chefs can draw from a world of flavors to create these tender, palate-cleansing morsels. While it’s taken some time (about a thousand years!) for them to find there find their way into American cuisine, these gorgeous jewel-toned candies are finally gaining in popularity. Recchiuti Confections’ version of the French favorite is prepared using traditional handmade methods and contains no artificial colors or preservatives.
Pectin: A natural carbohydrate found in the inner peel of many fruits which helps gummy confections, like our Pâtes de Fruits, to form a solid but tender and moist gel.
Semisweet chocolate: A chocolate that contains at least 15% chocolate liquor by weight. This term is rarely used to describe the new chocolates.
Sugar bloom: An accumulation of sugar crystals on the surface of chocolate brought on by too moist an environment. See also chocolate bloom.
Truffle: An irregularly shaped, often oval confection of ganache, coated with chocolate, and usually finished with a cocoa powder exterior. Its shape mimics that of the black truffle from the Périgord region of France. In confectionary jargon the words “truffle” and “bonbon” often refer to molded, cut or piped chocolate confections, though purists might argue these to be misnomers. Recchiuti makes two kinds of “true” truffles, Champagne and Signature.
Tempered chocolate: Chocolate that has been heated and then cooled to specific temperatures so that the fat fractions in the cocoa butter crystallize properly, resulting in a high sheen.
Unsweetened chocolate: Chocolate liquor without added sugar.
Vanilla: Vanilla is the pod fruit of a climbing orchid plant. Growing the plant and curing the pods are both labor-intensive, factors that account for vanilla’s high price in the market. Both whole pods and an extract made from them are used in Recchiuti recipes. Tahitian beans are frequently called for because they are very fruity and floral, qualities that go well with chocolate. Madagascar Bourbon extract has a strong vanilla aroma and is preferred in recipes that benefit from this quality.
Varietal chocolate: Chocolate made with cacao beans selected from specific areas, regions or plantations that grow superior beans. These beans (and the resulting chocolate) exhibit distinctive flavors depending on the climate, soil, temperature, etc. of where the cacao is grown and the chocolates are often named for the region. Our Varietal Chocolate line is made with single-origin chocolate and highlights the cacao of Ecuador, Madagascar, Venezuela and Colombia.
White chocolate: Chocolate that contains not less than 20% cocoa fat, 3 1/2% milk fat, and 14% milk solids, as well as not more than 55% sweetener.