Which cocoa is the best?

Chocolate ice cream is one of the most popular varieties and I can only agree wholeheartedly. I love chocolate in all forms, in any situation and in any weather 🙂.

A common misconception is that chocolate ice cream gets better the more chocolate it contains. However, it is true that the central and most important ingredient is the cocoa. As you would expect, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Cocoa is the basis for the production of all chocolate products.
Cocoa is the basis for the production of all chocolate products.

I want to help you with this post,
to find the right cocoa for you!

Table of contents


Where does the cocoa come from?

Fresh beans in a cocoa fruit.
Fresh beans in a cocoa fruit.

The cocoa powder that we know from the supermarket is made from the Cocoa tree seed produced. After fermentation, drying and roasting, the beans are ground to a cocoa mass. This in turn is separated into cocoa butter and powder.

The official Latin name of the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao, which means as much as "Food of the gods" means. You can read more about this in the paragraph on History of cocoa read.

The cacao tree is in Central and South America native. Meanwhile, cocoa is used in many tropical areas of Asia, Europe and Africa cultivated.

History of cocoa

Cocoa has been a popular drink for thousands of years and is appreciated all over the world. The history of chocolate can be to the ancient Mayas trace back. The word derives from the Mayan word "kakaw". In various ancient cultures, cacao attained a sacred status. Deities were worshipped for bringing cocoa into the world. It found use in Rituals and ceremonies. In addition, because of their value, the beans were used early as a Means of payment used.

Fruit shells of the cacao tree in all shades. The beans are inside the fruit and have already been removed here.
Fruit shells of the cacao tree in all shades. The beans are inside the fruit and have already been removed here.

Finally, in the 16th century, the Spaniards the cocoa to Europe. When other European countries such as Italy and France visited parts of Central America, they also learned about cocoa and brought chocolate back to their respective countries.

From then on, cocoa spread rapidly across Europe. With the great demand arose large Plantations, on which thousands of Slaves had to work.

European palates were not very satisfied with the traditional recipes for chocolate drinks. Further developments occurred and often the hot chocolate was refined with cane sugar, cinnamon and other spices.

The Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten In 1828, discovered a way to combine the beans with alkaline salts to treat. The result was a powder that was easier to mix with water. The process was called "Dutch processing" known and still exists today.

Both Dutch processing and the cocoa press contributed to the fact that a Mass production of cocoa powder became possible. This made chocolate affordable for everyone.

For most of the 19th century, chocolate continued to be enjoyed as a beverage. It was not until the British chocolatiers J.S. Fry and Sons was the first chocolate bar invented

The Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter is generally credited with adding dried milk powder to chocolate at the end of the 19th century in order to Milk chocolate to produce. A few years later it came to the collaboration with his friend Henri Nestlé. Together they founded the Nestlé company and introduced milk chocolate to the market. However, this chocolate was still hard and difficult to chew.

In 1879, another Swiss chocolatier invented, Rudolf Lindt, the conching machine (conche for short). This gives the chocolate a soft, melt-in-the-mouth consistency and mixes well with other ingredients.

Only with time and various developments chocolate acquired a soft and melt-in-the-mouth consistency.
Only with time and various developments chocolate acquired a soft and melt-in-the-mouth consistency.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, family-owned companies like Mars and Nestlé produced a variety of Chocolate confections, to meet the growing demand for sweet treats.

Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine our lives without cocoa and chocolate. There are endless variations and varieties that sweeten our everyday lives.

What are the varieties of cocoa?

There are several varieties (called varietals) of the cacao tree. The difference in the Variety and the processing lead to different types of cocoa:

  • Criollo: is the Most expensive cocoa, as it has a very intense and delicate aroma. Also, the tree is more sensitive and susceptible to disease. This variety is found mainly in Central America.
  • Forastero: is characterized by dark and rather bitter beans that grow mainly in the Amazon. Due to the robustness of the trees, it makes approx. 80 % of world production off.
  • Trinitario: is a cross between the first two forms. This combines a high-yielding and robust tree with finer beans. This variety makes approx. 15 % of world production off.
After drying and roasting, the cocoa beans have a brown color.
After drying and roasting, the cocoa beans have a brown color.

Cocoa powder is made with us in trade usually according to origin and not sold by variety. It is therefore difficult to determine which variety is contained in the packet. The only thing that is certain is that in the world it is mainly the less noble cocoa that prevails, while the criollo is rare. You will in trade most likely only the Forastero get to see, unless you go to a deli or specialty store.

Environmental aspects of cocoa farming

Unfortunately, cocoa production, like all ruthless mass production, Environmentally harmful and is largely based on the Exploitation of small farmers. You can find a lot of information about this on the Internet, among other things at the Sustainable Cocoa Forum (German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa). From deforestation of the rainforest to soil erosion and an appalling carbon footprint, conventional cultivation is highly critical. Natural habitats and the environment are damaged and the indigenous population is exploited.

But it doesn't have to be that way!

The trend in cocoa cultivation is toward the Sustainability. We as consumers are called upon to support this development through conscious shopping. There are various Sealthat you should pay attention to. Internationally recognized are among others Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance Certified™ and UTZ Certified.

You should look out for these seals when shopping to support sustainable cocoa farming.
You should look out for these seals when shopping to support sustainable cocoa farming.

Pollutant load

Another important aspect is that cocoa and chocolate can be contaminated with harmful substances. Tests for example by Product test foundation found in individual products Contamination with cadmium or mineral oil. It becomes clear time and again that expensive chocolate or organic products are not necessarily the better ones.

The load may be of natural origin, among other things. Through the Growth of the trees on Volcanic rock accumulates Cadmium an. Under normal circumstances, the levels are below the applicable limits. However, it is also possible that exposure to the Packing of the products that lead to contamination with Mineral oils leads.

The right cocoa for ice cream production

There are many recipes that use chocolate to make ice cream. But here I tell you the secret of really good ice cream!

Cocoa should be used for maximum chocolate flavor.

Cocoa is added to the milk and cream mixture in most recipes and brought to a boil.
Cocoa is added to the milk and cream mixture in most recipes and brought to a boil. Here for the preparation of Bacio ice cream.

The reason is a simple consideration. Why would you use a mixed product like chocolate when you can 100 % Cocoa and thus the full flavor can use? Therefore, you will always find the ingredient cocoa and not chocolate in my recipes. The latter, on the other hand, can be used well as a topping or for dripping into the finished ice cream mass.

In no case you should Drinking chocolate because the cocoa content is low and the sugar content is high. Most often, other additives can be found on the ingredient list. Not to mention that the ice balance of the recipe is no longer correct due to these mixed products and the taste of chocolate is less intense.

As mentioned above, you will hardly find the variety description on a cocoa. However, when buying still remains the Choice of low oil, high oil, alkalized and non-alkalized.

Deoiled powder contains less fat (cocoa butter). Weakly deoiled powder dissolves more poorly than strongly deoiled powder in water or milk. On the other hand, the taste is more intense. Due to the Alkalization acidity is reduced and the cocoa becomes milder, more easily soluble in water and the flavor stronger. However, the secondary plant compounds lost, which have a positive effect on health.

Therefore, I prefer to use for ice cream making Low-oil and non-alkalized cocoa powder. It's best to test different varieties yourself to find out your favorite cocoa for making chocolate ice cream.

Ice cream recipes with cocoa


I hope I could give you an insight into the world of cocoa. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment.

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