Chocolate Liquor Isn't The Alcoholic Drink It Sounds Like

When one hears the term "chocolate liquor," it's easy to conjure images of a decadent and velvety alcoholic beverage made of creamy chocolate. However, chocolate liquor isn't the alcoholic drink it sounds like. That's actually chocolate liqueur, which does indeed have alcohol and is a term one often confuses with chocolate liquor.

The term liquor in chocolate liquor means liquid rather than alcohol. So what exactly is chocolate liquor? It is actually an essential ingredient for chocolatiers, bakers, and confectioners. Chocolate liquor is a critical ingredient for making all chocolates, from luxurious truffles to standard bars. Rich in chocolate flavor and mild in sweetness, chocolate liquor is also an excellent ingredient to use when baking and making desserts.

Chocolate liquor is made by heating cocoa butter and mixing it with parts of roasted cacao beans (or cocoa nibs). To change its base flavor, chocolatiers can mix in different ingredients. Adding more sugar will result in sweeter milk chocolates. Less sugar results in darker chocolates. Spices, fruits, essences, and more cocoa butter can also go into the mix, depending on the chocolatier's recipe.

How to easily distinguish chocolate liquor from chocolate liqueur

While chocolate liquor may be the foundation of all chocolates, one exception to this rule is white chocolate. White chocolate is made predominantly with cocoa butter and sugar. Thanks to the absence of solid cocoa parts, white chocolate is white, taking on the color of the cocoa fats it's made from. 

With a clearer understanding of chocolate liquor, let's delve into what chocolate liqueur is since the two are often confused. Chocolate liqueur, also known as crème de cacao, is an alcoholic beverage with the rich taste of chocolate and about 15% alcohol content. To make chocolate liqueur, one can mix vodka with cacao nibs and sugar. And while you can sip chocolate liqueur or add it to other drinks and cocktails, chocolatiers and confectioners often use it as a filling or a component of gourmet and high-end truffles and candies.

Perhaps this only adds to our confusion, as chocolate liquor and liqueur both play roles in chocolate and candy making. But to help you differentiate the two, remember this: If you're looking for a boozy chocolate truffle or candy or a boozy chocolatey drink, reach for something with chocolate liqueur. But if you're baking or making chocolates from scratch, it's chocolate liquor you're after.