Chocolatier versus Chocolate maker

When asked what I do for a living, I find that I often have to explain what a chocolatier is. Some people even ask if it’s a real term - I guess sounding like a “mouseketeer” doesn’t help!

A chocolatier is the term for a working professional that takes chocolate and creates confections like truffles, bonbons and more. This person has a working knowledge of the tempering curve for different chocolates (dark, milk and white usually, and sometimes differing curves for different chocolates within those basic types). And more importantly, they should have a firm grasp of the chemistry of both chocolate and sugar. Sugar acts as a preservative by binding to active water in confections, so it’s important to understand how much is needed for making creations shelf-stable.

Creating chocolate artwork is another skill that chocolatiers often have. You’ve probably have seen these amazing creations shared on social media. I’m in awe of what some chocolatiers create! It’s definitely something that I’d like to get better at myself, but haven’t had enough time or reason to create many chocolate statues. Hm… maybe for Artown?

Sometimes people call me a chocolate maker but I am not a chocolate maker. A chocolate maker takes the chocolate beans and creates what we recognize as chocolate. Frequently they are called bean-to-bar producers within the industry. They take cocoa beans that have been fermented and dried at the farm, and roast, crack, winnow, grind and blend with sugar to create solid chocolate. Their main skills come from the picking of beautiful beans to process and the roasting process (which varies with each maker just as coffee varies with roasters). A chocolate made by a skilled chocolate maker is a thing of beauty!

The Fine Chocolate Industry Association welcomes both chocolatiers and chocolate makers as members. It’s been great learning from the “other half” of the chocolate industry, but I always laugh because at the mixers as we tend to bifurcate into our professions. Not for any reason but that type As (chocolatiers) and type Bs (chocolate makers) tend to congregate with like-minded folks!

And really, what’s more fun at a mixer than a group of chocolatiers?

February 17, 2020 — Krysta Bea Jackson