Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This is chocolate

I hate Cadbury "chocolates" (it pains me to use the word chocolate to describe Cadbury products). The few times I have eaten Cadbury"chocolates" have been moments of emergency and desperation, where no other option was available or where gifters were watching expectantly. These lapses into Cadbury products were, thankfully, rare, and the lesson was learnt quickly that no chocolate craving can ever be adequately satisfied with Cadbury chocolates.

So, imagine my sadistic glee at the recent news that Cadbury (in NZ, at least) was replacing the already minute quality of cocoa butter in its chocolate with palm oil, that scourge of Indonesia that is not produced sustainably and that threatens the livelihood of the very cute orangutans.

The bulk of the "chocolate" products you buy from your supermarket are not chocolate, but rather should be regarded as confectionary.

Pure chocolate contains more than 65% cacao. The only ingredients in a good bar of chocolate are cacao paste and cocoa butter.

Cacao paste is the gooey mass made from crushing, heating and conching the roasted beans. This makes up 45-70% (but usually just above 50%) of the bar, and is called many things, such as cacao liquor, cacao mass and cacao paste.

Cocoa butter (which is NOT dairy butter!) is a flavourless fat that is squeezed out during "Dutch processing", which creates powdered cocoa. Extra cocoa butter is added to create the texture of the bars, and is used to adjust the texture and flavour. More cocoa butter means a smoother, creamer, less bitter bar that melts beautifully. Less cocoa butter means a sharper, dryer, more powdery, and some would argue more flavourful bar. Notice that this means that cocoa powder is a by-product of making chocolate bars, not the other way around!

Sugar - the less, the better otherwise it interferes with the cacao. Enough said.

I was going to outrage you, dear reader, by listing the ingredients on a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk. But decided against it. What's the point? Regardless of what's in the product, it does not taste like, and is not, chocolate.

The only explanation I have for the continued existence of such companies is that its products cater to those with tastebuds damaged by years of processed food consumption. There are plenty of quality chocolates on the market that are affordable (see Whittakers), and that look and taste like chocolate should. The fact that people don't wake up to this, and don't treat chocolate with the respect it deserves, pains me.

Placing a square of rich, dark chocolate on your tongue is a thoroughly erotic experience. The temperature of your mouth is enough to melt the chocolate into decadent, pleasurable hedonism. It is not something that needs to be munched, chewed, 'eaten', masticated. If that is what is required to explode the flavours on your tastebuds, then it's nothing more than grease/fat/lard. How sexy is that? How can you do that to yourself?

We have demeaned the value of chocolate. We treat truffles with reverence. Why not start doing the same with chocolate? I normally rage against regulation, but if we are going to control how food is labelled to ensure it accurately reflects the item to be consumed, we must be consistent and differentiate between chocolates and confectionary.

Their confectionary is already nauseating, but now Cadbury's is trying to pander to the naive and gullible with FairTrade branding.
Liberty Scott succinctly explains why this is nothing more than a marketing gimmick
I knew the FairTrade brand was suspect, but Liberty Scott's background on it is enlightening and articulate.  I urge you to read it!


libertyscott said...

Absolutely. Nestle is better, but I equate those who regards Cadbury's as chocolate as those who think wine comes from a cask and is labelled "dry" or "medium", or those who think cheese comes in 3 varieties "mild, medium and colby".

Opinionated Mummy said...

This is where an uncharacteristic urge to regulate comes up for me. The drink in a cask is not "wine". It should only be allowed to be described as "fermented grape juice". I haven't worked out what to call the yellow, hard mass that passes off as cheese these days. I fear it would be easier to regulate cheese production so that it meets certain consumption standards.

Let this be the only time you will hear me utter noises of regulation!