Chocolate liquor is chocolate in its most pure, liquid form. It is derived from the nibs of ground up cocoa beans, which are further ground into a liquid that consists of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Pure chocolate liquor is about half and half, but can be modified by adding butter to change qualities such as the texture of the chocolate. More cocoa butter means a higher quantity of fat. Forming solid blocks of chocolate when it cools, the liquor can be bought on its own or its quality assessed to determine what type of chocolate will be used.
Bittersweet chocolate has the highest percentage of chocolate liquor of all. The type of liquor used is also very high in cocoa butter, but carries the benefits of being both edible and suited for baking or cooking other chocolate delicacies. Liquor of this type is often used for making chocolate mousse brownies and ganache. A lower content of chocolate liquor is used to make semisweet as well as sweet chocolate, such as for chocolate chip cookies.
Milk chocolate contains the least amount of liquor, so its flavor is not as strong as other forms of chocolate. Choosing a chocolate liquor depends on how it is made. Filtering systems break it down to separate the solids from the butter, so that each can be added to a new mix in different quantities. The taste is further altered by adding sugar to the mixture.
Chocolate liquor is often selected by manufacturers of other chocolate products based on the desired quality of their end product. An emulsifier called lecithin holds together the mixture for consistency, while oils also affect the quality of the chocolate. Other flavorings can be added as well depending on the nature of the chocolate and its intended use. More cocoa butter, and therefore fat, will be added for producing dark chocolates. The percentage of fat is listed on the label for the chocolate liquor or the product that it is used in.
The choice of chocolate liquor can also be made based on nutrient levels. Cocoa includes healthy ingredients known to reduce cholesterol, as well as vitamin B. Anti-oxidants in the cocoa also carry many health benefits. The ratio of butter to solids can be chosen on the basis of selling a health food product or one based on the health value dark chocolate is known for.