couverture (koo-ver-tchure) noun
The French translation of “coating” or “covering.” Couverture chocolate, which can be white, milk, semisweet or bittersweet, has high cocoa-butter content. The European Union regulates and controls the definition of couverture, but there are no such regulations within American manufacturing. The EU designates couverture as containing more than 31% cocoa butter,1,2 which is more than the typical candy bar. Most sources will state that couverture has a minimum of 32% cocoa butter.3
The high amount of cocoa butter means the couverture will be more fluid when melted. When dipping candies and truffles, this allows for a very thin coating, which is preferred by professionals, and when tempered, a couverture will also provide a high shine and a crisp texture – all hallmarks of fine chocolate work. Tempered couverture also shrinks slightly upon cooling, which means any molded chocolates will release easily from their molds.
Image: Peter Muka
- A chocolate might be labeled as “couverture” and/or it might have the percentage of cocoa butter listed on the label. Do not confuse this with the cacao mass percentage, which is the percentage you usually see on labels. It must say “X% cocoa butter.” If it just says “semisweet chocolate 55%” or something like that, it is referring to the cacao mass. Consult brands’ websites for detailed information.
- Use a couverture chocolate when making curls or shapes; dipping candies or truffles; or for molding candy bars.
- Couverture chocolates do tend to be more expensive and are best bought in bulk. Check chocosphere.com for a variety of choices.
- Greweling, Peter, Chocolates & Confections (John Wiley & Sons, 2007)
- FSA Guidance on the Cocoa and Chocolate Products Regulations, Revised June 2009
- Rinsky, Glenn and Laura, The Pastry Chef’s Companion (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)