Chocolate chips are small chunks of sweetened chocolate, used for cooking, baking or enjoyed as a snack.
How are chocolate chips made?
The process begins with the farmers hand-harvesting the cocoa pods from the trees, opening the pods and then removing the beans. The beans are then packed into boxes or piled and covered with banana leaves for few days, during which time they ferment and turn brown. The beans are then sun-dried and shipped to the processing plants.
The cocoa beans are roasted and hulled (at this point they are called cocoa nibs), and crushed into cocoa mass/liquor. The mass can then be refined by being crushed again and used in chocolate processing.
The cocoa mass can also be pressed to separate the liquid (cocoa butter) from the cake. The butter is deodorized to reduce acidity and to remove impurities that affect the flavors used in the chocolate processing. The cake is ground to make cocoa powder.
The cocoa is then blended to make the final product. The main ingredients are cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, lecithin and vanilla. When milk chocolate is made, milk or milk powder is added. White chocolate is made with milk and does not include cocoa powder.
Vegetable fats are used to replace or reduce the use of the expensive cocoa butter in compound chocolate – a lower quality chocolate.
After blending, the mixture is refined by crushing it between a series of rollers under controlled temperature and mixed in the conche tanks. The product is then cooled in the tempering unit and deposited on a belt and cooled in a cooling tunnel. The final product is then packaged for consumers to enjoy.
Are chocolate chips kosher?
In order for the chocolate chips to be kosher certified, all the ingredients need to come from kosher sources. Cocoa ingredients are often shipped from one facility to another in tankers that can be used for dairy or non-kosher. The tankers need to be kosher certified or kosherized to retain the kosher status of the finished product. Additionally, the production process is hot, so it is very important to make sure that the equipment is kosher without any non-kosher ingredients that can compromise the kosher status of the chocolate.
When it comes to pareve chocolate chips, the equipment needs to be dedicated to pareve or completely cleaned from any dairy residue and kosherized properly. This is often a challenge in chocolate manufacturing environments that try to avoid any water on the equipment due to concerns of potential bacteria growth and damage to the chocolate if it comes in contact with water.
Therefore, chocolate chips, and any product containing chocolate chips, should only be purchased with a reliable kosher certification.