original article 2100 words - Rabbi Zushe Yosef Blech
Dayan Gavriel Kraus in Mekor HaBeracha (Chpt. 21) argues that the Beracha one ought to make before eating chocolate is HaEitz because Cocoa beans are grown exclusively for the purpose of making chocolate. Rav Moshe Feinstein disagrees; (IgMoshe O.C. 3:31) [see also Mishna Halachos Vol. VI Ch. 38; Tiferes Tzvi Ch. 6 from Rabbi Kornmehl.]
Chocolate is produced from the seeds found within the fruit of the cocoa tree. The seeds are found within a jelly, somewhat like the seeds in a rock-melon or honey-dew. The fruit is harvested, split apart and the jelly with the seeds are allowed to ferment naturally. This fermentation is critical to the development of the chocolate flavour. The beans are then roasted and broken into small pieces, nibs, which are ground, producing a viscous liquid, chocolate liquor.
Under intense pressure, the chocolate syrup derived from grinding the chocolate seeds will separate into oil, cocoa butter; and powder, cocoa. Cocoa butter is almost flavourless and melts at about human body temperature thereby offering its remarkable sensation of melting in the mouth. The chocolate we eat is a finely balanced mixture of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar and some flavour; milk chocolate also contains milk powder. An emulsifier, commonly Lecithin - derived from soy - is added to ensure it retains its smooth and creamy texture.
Dutched cocoa is processed with alkaloids to adjust its flavor and colour.
White chocolate contains no chocolate powder. It is made with milk, cocoa butter, sugar and vanillin.
Compound chocolate has non chocolate vegetable fats added to it, it is diluted chocolate, and is less expensive.
Although Rabbi Blech writes see that "Fats other than cocoa butter may be used in European chocolates. Indeed, the Belgians are fond of using animal fats in their chocolate because of the softer texture it imparts." I have sought clarification about this from Rabbi Blech, since this is banned by both the US and European food laws. see
Whey, derived from cheese production, might also be an ingredient in dairy chocolate. However, unless cheese is made with Jewish participation, it is not Kosher and some argue that the whey derived from non-Kosher cheese will also be deemed to be non-Kosher.
Milk powder produced on shared equipment can become contaminated with non-Kosher flavour.
Making chocolate delectable requires a 24 to 96 hour process called conching which essentially heats and pounds the chocolate to reduce the crystalline structure, making it extremely smooth.
Tempering chocolate ensures that as it cools, a fine, even-grained texture is retained and that the chocolate will not bloom, i.e. form a whitish colouration.
Adding an emulsifier such as lecithin also assists to prevent bloom.
Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi Reponsa 103 and 104) rules that powdered milk is not subject to the decree of Cholov Akum. Thus milk chocolate, being made with powdered milk, may be eaten by those who are particular to use Cholov Yisroel.
Water and oils do not combine therefore chocolate manufacturers are very reluctant to use water for cleaning their machinery since chocolate is an oil and when combined with even the tiniest drop of water, creates an irreversible, brittle, ugly mess. Therefore, if Kashering is required, and using a flame (Libun) is not practical, hot oil rather than water will be used, although many Poskim are not happy with this. Cocoa butter, the first choice of chocolate processors, may not even be considered a liquid since it is a solid at room temperature (Igros Moshe Y.D. I:60).