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What is Chocolate Liquor? Guide to Chocolate Liquor vs Chocolate Liqueur

Chocolate liquor, it sounds good right? But there’s some confusion about what it is (and if it contains alcohol). And what about chocolate liqueur? In this post, you’ll learn the differences between chocolate liquor and chocolate liqueur.

chocolate-liquor-(backing-chocolate),-cocoa-beans,-cocoa-powder

On the left – cocoa powder, at the top chocolate liquor (baking chocolate) and on the right – roasted cocoa beans.

What is Chocolate Liquor? Liquor, Liqueur: What’s the Difference?

Liquor, liqueur – are we just talking about two different kinds of alcoholic beverages? Maybe, but not necessarily.

And how do you pronounce liquor and liqueur? They can sound so similar depending on who you’re talking to.

Sound confusing? It can be – but it’s also pretty easy to sort out once we start digging in, so let’s get to it.

3 Differences: Chocolate Liquor and Liqueur

  1. Chocolate liquor: Thick paste-like mass made of pure cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Made from cocoa beans. Doesn’t contain alcohol.
  2. Chocolate liqueur: Beverage made from a base liquor like whiskey or vodka (containing alcohol) to which chocolate is added. Contains alcohol.
  3. Liquor: Distilled alcoholic drink, made with grains, fruits, or vegetables. Chocolate liqueur is a type of liquor. Contains alcohol.

Is there alcohol in chocolate liquor?

If you’re talking about chocolate liquor, as in what is used to make chocolaty treats, then no there is no alcohol.

But it depends on what kind of liquor you’re talking about. Many people call any beverage containing alcohol: liquor. So if you’re talking about a beverage like creme de cacao then, yes there is alcohol.

So we need to get down to what these terms mean. Does liquor always refer to booze or alcohol-containing beverages? No, it doesn’t. This brings us to the next question.


What is liquor?

When we talk about liquor (ˈli-kər) we usually refer to a beverage that contains alcohol. But the word liquor at its base just means a liquid substance.

Liquor (Etymology): The origin of “liquor” and its close relative “liquid” was the Latin verb liquere, meaning “to be fluid”. via Wikipedia

Chocolate liquor is a “liquor” in the sense that it is (often) a liquid substance. We’ll talk more about that later.

But first, let’s look a little closer at what is meant when the word liquor is used in reference to alcohol. It can be confusing, especially when we’re sorting out the difference between chocolate liquor and chocolate liqueur.

Alcohol-containing Liquor: Liquor with alcohol is more specific than it seems. It refers to all alcoholic beverages that are distilled, like tequila, gin, brandy, whiskey, vodka, and all liqueurs. So chocolate liqueur is a type of alcoholic liquor.

So how is it possible that chocolate liquor does not contain alcohol? That’s where we get back to the base meaning of the word liquor – a liquid substance.

cocoa-butter,-cocoa-powder-made-from-chocolate liquor (cocoa paste)

Chocolate liquor contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in about equal amounts


What is Chocolate Liquor?

Chocolate liquor is the base substance from which chocolate is made.

It is a thick paste-like mass made of pure cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It’s made from cocoa beans. The beans are fermented, dried and then roasted. Once the skins are removed from the beans the nibs (the inside part of the bean) are ground into a cocoa mass called cocoa paste. The paste liquefies when it’s heated.

The chocolate liquor contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in fairly equal amounts. The liquor can be molded into raw chocolate blocks or separated into cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

Chocolate liquor may also be called cocoa liquor, cacao liquor, or cocoa mass. Unsweetened baking chocolate is also a form of chocolate liquor.

In the following video, you’ll see the process of how chocolate liquor is made. The roasted cocoa nibs are ground to a fine grind and then the chocolate paste or liquor is made. In the video, they go on to extract the cocoa butter. You’ll see the liquor at around 0:45 in the video.

Watch on YouTube 


What does chocolate liquor contain?

According to What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, these are the 5 major components of chocolate liquor.

  1. 54% cocoa butter (fat)
  2. 17% carbohydrates
  3. 11% protein
  4. 6% tannins
  5. 1.5% theobromine (alkaloid stimulant, similar to caffeine)

The FDA requires that the percentage of fat be from 50% to 58%.

Chocolate liquor also contains the following three components. The amounts of polyphenols and anandamide are minuscule.

  1. Phenylethylamine (less than 1%)
  2. Polyphenols (antioxidants)
  3. Anandamide (closely related to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana).

Is there caffeine in chocolate liquor?

Yes. Coffee nibs contain caffeine so the liquor which comes from them also contains caffeine.

The darker the chocolate the more caffeine it contains. So because chocolate liquor is a basic form of chocolate it will contain more caffeine than the same amount of chocolate that has added ingredients like sugar, cream, milk…

dark chocolate made from chocolate liquor (cocoa-paste)

Dark chocolate made from chocolate liquor (cocoa-paste)


Is there gluten in chocolate liquor?

Cocoa nibs do not contain gluten. So the pure liquor (cocoa mass/cocoa liquor) which is made from the nibs does not contain it either. We’re not referring to the chocolate flavored alcoholic beverage here.

But products made from the liquor like chocolates and chocolate bars may contain gluten because they contain added ingredients.

It is always best to read labels very carefully and or call the manufacture of the product if you are avoiding gluten.


Is chocolate liquor vegan?

Yes. The pure cocoa mass/paste (liquor) made from cocoa nibs is vegan because it contains nothing but cocoa solids and cocoa butter. They come from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree.

But when that base product (chocolate liquor) is used to make other treats, those products might not be considered vegan. Other ingredients, like dairy (milk and whey), honey, white sugar, and gelatin may be used in some chocolate.

Research is important so it may be best to call the manufacture of the product you’re concerned about just to make sure of all the ingredients.

what are chocolate nibs used for

Cocoa nibs which come from cocoa beans


Is chocolate liquor dairy free?

Yes. Pure chocolate liquor (cocoa liquor/cocoa paste) is dairy free. It comes from chocolate nibs that do not contain dairy. They do contain cocoa butter, but this is a plant-based butter and has nothing to do with dairy.

But there’s a need to be careful if you’re avoiding dairy because the liquor is used to make other products like chocolates, and chocolate bars so you’ll need to check the ingredients in your chocolate products carefully.

Darker means better: Usually the darker (and less-sweet) the chocolate the less likely it is to contain dairy. It’s probably best to call the manufacturer if you’re concerned.

cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, cocoa butter from chocolate liquor

On the right are the cocoa nibs, to the left the cocoa butter and at the top cocoa powder.


Is chocolate liquor healthy?

Yes, in moderation it can be. It is a purely plant-based food which has some health benefits. It becomes less healthy as other ingredients (like sugar, cream or milk) are added to it.

The darker and less sweet the chocolate – the better.


Is chocolate liquor poisonous to dogs?

Yes, it is toxic to dogs. There are compounds in the chocolate nibs (like theobromine and caffeine) that a dog’s system cannot handle as we can.

You may think that because it is a more pure form of chocolate it would be alright, but it isn’t. More chocolate liquor = more toxic for your dog.

No amount of chocolate (in any form) is good for a dog.

chocolates made from chocolate liquor

What is chocolate liquor used for?

It is used to make all kinds of chocolate products: baking chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate bars, cocoa powder, cocoa butter…

  • Baking chocolate: the liquor is poured into molds and allowed to harden into blocks.
  • Sweet chocolate (dark chocolate): more cocoa butter is added along with some sugar.
  • Milk chocolate: milk (dried or concentrated) is added along with the cocoa butter and sugar.
  • White chocolate: the cocoa solids are removed and the cocoa butter is used with added sugar, milk and additional flavorings.
  • Cocoa powder: is made by pressing the liquor and removing some of the cocoa butter and then pulverizing the cocoa into a fine powder.
  • Cocoa butter: this is made when the liquor is pressed and the butter is separated from the solids. The butter can then be poured into a mold and go on to be used in other products.

So now that we know about the kind of chocolate liquor that does not contain alcohol, what about the kind that does?

sweet chocolate liqueur drink

What is Chocolate Liqueur?

Chocolate liqueur is a beverage made from a base liquor like whiskey or vodka (containing alcohol) to which chocolate is added. Some chocolate liqueurs contain dark chocolate and others are made with milk chocolate or white chocolate.

Chocolate liqueur can be served on its own (usually over ice) or mixed into other recipes for food or beverages.


Does chocolate liqueur have alcohol?

Yes. Chocolate liqueur contains alcohol. It is made by adding chocolate and other ingredients to a base liquor like vodka or another spirit (distilled liquor).

You can buy or make non-alcoholic chocolate liqueur as well. But when it comes to liqueurs, they usually contain alcohol so it’s best to make sure it’s non-alcoholic if you’re concerned.

What is liqueur used for? Liqueur is used to add flavor and a touch of alcohol to beverages like milk and coffee, and added to other types of alcohol to make drinks like a daiquiri or a Manhattan. It can also be served alone or over ice.

Sweet liqueurs (like chocolate liqueur) are often served after a meal similar to a dessert.

It can also be used in cooking/baking recipes and as a filling for chocolates.

chocolate liqueurs (liquor filled chocolates)

Chocolate liqueurs (liquor filled chocolates)


Is chocolate liquor the same as chocolate liqueur?

No, they are not the same. But chocolate liqueur is a type of liquor.

This also depends on what kind of chocolate liquor you’re talking about. As we talked about earlier, chocolate liquor that refers to the base mass of cocoa solids does not contain alcohol, so it is not the same as a chocolate liqueur.

But when some people talk about chocolate liquor they may be referring to a beverage containing alcohol. So they may be referring to a chocolate liqueur.

In the following video, you’ll hear a simple explanation of the difference between these two types of alcohol containing beverages. They are talking about liquor and liqueur in general, but this also applies to chocolate liqueur.

Watch on YouTube

Did you notice the difference in the pronunciation in “liquor”liqueur? Is that how you pronounce them? How should they be pronounced?


How do you pronounce liqueur and liquor?

This can be a tricky subject because the pronunciation can differ based on where you are from and your accent. But one thing is certain: These words aren’t pronounced the same way. Or at least not if you don’t want to make your friends giggle.

According to Merriam Webster, this is how they should be pronounced (or at least from my perspective):

  • Liquor“li-kər with a short i and an er pronounced similar to the er in the word “her“.
  • Liqueurli-ˈkər”, “liˈku̇r”, “liˈkyu̇r”. This is a little more tricky because there are a few different acceptable possibilities. Li-ˈkər which is the same as the pronunciation for liquor except the er sound is emphasized a little longer like you might say the r in “brr” when it’s cold out. And then there’s liˈku̇r where the ueur is said more like the ur sound in the word sure. And the last example liˈkyu̇r is to pronounce the ueur like you would in the word your.

Are any of those options how you pronounce those words? If not I would love to know how you do. Have some fun and sound them out for me in the comments.

liqueur being poured into chocolate

Liqueur being poured into chocolate


What are chocolate liqueurs? 2 types

  1. The term chocolate liqueurs refer to little chocolates filled with various kinds of liquor/alcohol.
  2. It also refers to liqueurs which are a type of sweet liquor containing chocolate (dark, milk, or white) and has sugar and other ingredients like milk, cinnamon, cream, vanilla… added to it.

And to make things even more interesting, the little chocolates may also be filled with chocolate liqueur.

liquor filled chocolates (chocolate liqueurs)

Liquor filled chocolates also called chocolate liqueurs.


Do chocolate liqueurs contain alcohol?

Yes, they generally do. Liqueurs are made from a variety of distilled liquors (vodka, whiskey…) which contain alcohol.

You can also get non-alcoholic liqueurs. But it’s always best to ask and/or read labels carefully if you are avoiding alcohol.

chocolate nibs before being made into chocolate liquor (cocoa paste)

The wonderful little cocoa nibs from which all chocolate is made


Why This Matters

If you’re a chocolate lover like me this matters. It’s satisfying to know where our favorite treat comes from, how it’s made, and the terms used in the world of chocolate.

If you want to buy your niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson a box of chocolates but don’t want to do something that could upset their parents.

If your recipe calls for chocolate liquor.

If you’re health conscious. For yourself, and your pets.

If you want to dazzle your chocolate loving friends with all your chocolaty knowledge.

And it’s always good to be less confused about something that matters to you. So I hope I’ve helped with that and hey, maybe now you’ll have a new riddle to share – something like “When is a liquor not liquor?”When it’s chocolate liquor! 🙂

assorted sweet chocolates made from cocoa liquor

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Meet the Author

Drew Haines

Drew Haines is an animal enthusiast, travel writer, and content marketer. She loves to share her passion through her writing. She is the founder and owner of EverywhereWild Media, EverywhereWild, and co-founder and owner of JustBirding. She also guest blogs on LatinRootsTravel and GringosAbroad. She lived in Ecuador for 6 years and explored the Galapagos Islands. Currently based in N.S., Canada.

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