Months ago, I learnt that palm oil was being used in chocolate, and of the furore over Cadbury Australia "sneaking" palm oil into its products (or counting on people neglecting the ingredients list). And in the background, a "war" over whether Cadbury's is chocolate has been going on in Europe for over 20 years. The opposing camp is led by the Belgians, who are said to be absolutely anal about chocolate.
So, no. I have been eating "chocolate" all this time, not chocolate.
Not that I can tell whether some chocolate is chocolate.
But damn, I feel kind of cheated.
Though the Cadbury range from Australia and New Zealand is now available here (in cardboard, not paper packaging), I still couldn't tell the difference. Locally manufactured Cadbury's now lists "vegetable oil" - a mix of palm, illipe and shea oils - among the ingredients; you won't see that on the more expensive Australian stuff.
Then I bit into a chunk of Whittaker's.
Oh good gravy. It is good.
Liquid gold in bar form. Not sharing, not sharing...
(Photo is ©2011 Alex W)
(Photo is ©2011 Alex W)
See, not having vegetable oil in your chocs is not enough. You also need to have a certain amount of cocoa solids in there as well. That includes the bits that give chocolate its brown colour, sharp bitterness and the smooth buttery mouth-feel - all from real cocoa. "Vegetable oil" doesn't cut it. So why use it? Because it's cheaper and readily available. Cocoa beans contain cocoa butter, which is the oily component in chocolate, but it's not so readily available and harder to process, and is thus expensive.
Incidentally, "white chocolate" is mostly cocoa butter that had its cocoa solids squeezed out of it; pure chocolate is referred to as "cocoa liquor", which is cocoa solids plus cocoa butter. So, no, not chocolate, either.
Because of the European chocolate tiff, guidelines have been laid out over what is "milk chocolate" and "chocolate". According to these guidelines:
- Chocolate must contain not less than 43% dry cocoa solids, including not less than 26% cocoa butter.
- Milk chocolate must contain not less than 30% dry cocoa solids and not less than 18% dry milk solids.
Australia's Cadbury's only has 26% total cocoa solids and 28% milk solids, so that means damn, it's not quite "chocolate" enough.
But Whittaker's claims to have has 33% cocoa solids in its milk chocolate, and somehow, somehow, it shows. The cocoa taste and aroma is a tad stronger. Whittaker's has at least two variants of milk chocolate, both of which I found at Jaya Grocer@Empire, Subang Jaya. The other one is the Madagascar Milk, an "extra smooth milk chocolate" made from Madagascar cocoa beans. This one is smoother, milkier, but has less of the cocoa taste and aroma.
Which was why when, during a mini food-crawl in Subang Jaya, I was overjoyed to find that Jaya Grocer had replenished its stock of Whittaker's 33% Creamy Milk Chocolate Block. I bought two, which I intend to eat as slowly as I can; the expiry date's this October.
Oh, sweet, sweet Whittaker's milk chocolate, so rare, so sublime, so aromatic... not letting it go, not letting you go... I'll never let go, Jack...