Couverture vs. Compound Chocolate: What is the Difference?

Help! What Chocolate Should I Use?

Not all chocolates are created equal. If you’re new to chocolate, it is hard to understand the differences between compound chocolate and couverture. Each has it’s own composition, unique properties, and uses. In this post, we’ll explore everything you need to know to differentiate between them, highlighting their best uses and whether tempering is necessary.

Compound Chocolate

Compound Chocolate, also known as confectionery chocolate or compound coating in Europe (because it doesn’t legally qualify as chocolate), is another chocolate-like product. It is composed of cocoa powder, vegetable fats, occasionally minimal cocoa butter, and sweeteners. The characteristics of compound chocolates, such as the texture, melting behavior, and melting point, depend on the type and composition of fats. By changing the composition of ingredients, different characteristics are achieved depending on the desired end product. While compound chocolate is not technically chocolate due to the absence of cocoa butter, it’s a cost-effective alternative for various applications.

Best Uses: Compound chocolate is often used for mass production of candies, baked goods, and snacks. It has a longer shelf life and is less sensitive to temperature changes, making it suitable for warm climates. It is also commonly used in chocolate molds for making simple, non-temper-sensitive chocolate shapes.

Tempering: Confectionary chocolate does not require tempering, as it doesn’t contain cocoa butter. It can be melted and used directly for coating purposes. However, when melting compound chocolate it is sensitive to temperature. Keep below 47 degrees to prevent burning, thickening, and blooming.

Couverture Chocolate

Couverture chocolate is the highest quality chocolate and the choice of professional chocolatiers and pastry chefs. The word couverture comes from the French verb couvrir, which means “to cover.” It contains a high percentage of cocoa butter (usually around 32-39%), which gives it a rich flavor, smooth texture, and excellent tempering qualities.

Best Uses: Couverture chocolate is perfect for creating gourmet chocolates, truffles, bonbons, and other high-end confection treats. It melts smoothly, sets with a glossy finish, has a satisfying snap when broken, and offers a complex flavor profile. Its higher cocoa butter content also makes it suitable for enrobing cakes and pastries.

Tempering: Tempering couverture chocolate is essential to achieve the desired shine and snap. Proper tempering involves controlled heating and cooling to stabilize the cocoa butter crystals. This ensures that the chocolate sets correctly and has an appealing appearance. Failing to temper couverture can cause it to bloom and crumble and the result is undesirable chocolate.

Chocolate bonbon treats made with couverture chocolate

International Definitions of Chocolate

Different countries have specific standards for what can be labeled as chocolate. In the European Union, for instance, chocolate must contain a minimum percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter to be labeled as such, as outlined by the European Cocoa/Chocolate Directive 2000-36-EC. This is why couverture qualifies as chocolate but compound does not. In the United States, the FDA defines different chocolate categories, for example milk chocolate and white chocolate, each with specific ingredient requirements.

Colouring Your Chocolate

The number one rule when it comes to colouring chocolate? NEVER use water based colorant! All chocolates are composed of large amounts of fat/oil, which does not mix with water. Instead, there are alternative types of colorants you can use depending on the colour application you prefer. When colouring bonbon shells, use a coloured cocoa butter, such as those on our website from Roxy & Rich. For colouring confectionery/compound chocolate a solid shade, we recommend using Candy Colors from Chefmaster or oil-based colouring from Colour Mill. To colour couverture a solid shade, use Fat Dispersible Dusts from Roxy & Rich.


In conclusion, the world of chocolate encompasses various types, each catering to different needs and preferences. Whether you’re crafting decorative coatings, producing large quantities of treats, or indulging in artisanal creations, understanding the difference between compound chocolate, and couverture will elevate your chocolate-making endeavors to new heights. Remember, the type of chocolate you choose can greatly influence the taste, texture, and overall quality of your creations.