Chocolate vs Compound Coating - Why Bakeries Use Both!

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Chocolate versus Compound Coating

Running a bakery involves making decisions that affect your product taste, presentation and overall quality (much like a chocolate shop!). In a chocolatier’s world, this is often the type of chocolate and fillings used. However, for bakeries, the decision of using compound coating (sometimes just called coating or compound) or chocolate couverture can be one of the main factors.

by Joe Baker

15 March 2024

What’s the difference between chocolate couverture and compound chocolate?

While they may look similar on the surface, chocolate couverture and compound coating are actually quite different! Chocolate couverture has to contain a certain level of cocoa butter, which gives it that classic shine and snap when bitten into. It’s the cocoa butter content that makes tempering chocolate necessary. Compound coatings use vegetable oil in place of cocoa butter. 

The result is a product that when melted and shock-cooled, gives that classic bakery chocolate taste we would find in a millionaires shortbread! Or billionaires, if you’re feeling extra fancy…

Coating is
very much a bakery-based product, one of the main reasons being: heat! If
you’ve ever stepped foot in a bakery, you’ll know it can get pretty warm in
there… The issue with this, is keeping chocolate at a cool enough temperature
so it doesn’t melt before being served. The benefit of coating is that after
melting, you need to shock cool it in a fridge. It then sets solid and can be
left on show in a bakery display case. 

So, bakeries don’t need chocolate?

They do still use traditional chocolate, especially when using quality chocolate is key. Coating just provides an easier alternative with the cocoa flavour, without the need for tempering. Of course, chocolate ganache, custards and mousses are still a staple of bakeries and patisseries and require traditional chocolate couverture.

A fable about bakestable…

There is a slight workaround on bakeries using chocolate however. If you’re a home baker, you’ve likely used bakestable chocolate before, even without realising it! Often just labelled in the supermarket as ‘baking chocolate’, this chocolate keeps its form when heated. This is due to a lower cocoa butter content, compared to its non-bakestable relative. This is ideal for bakeries as it means any pastries and cakes will still offer that chocolate chunk texture when bitten into, rather than melting into the product. 

Pain au chocolat is a wonderful example of this. Soft, buttery and flakey on the outside, but with a firm chocolate texture inside.

Bakestable, coating, couverture… Where does it end?

Well, there’s cocoa powder too, generally used for adding chocolate flavour to pastries, tarts and whipped creams. You can see more on types of cocoa powders from our cocoa powder range. However those three options just about cover the chocolate options you would see in a bakery.

If you’ve got some ideas, but they’re a bit half-baked, or fancy yourself a French Fraisier, head on over to our blog on the Twelve Classic Pastries!

Joe is a marketing executive, maker of baked goods and a Teesside accent so thick you could cut through it. 

His favourite chocolate is Luker Nevado

Joe Baker