How to understand basic chocolate terms


If you're shopping for special chocolates, do get you stuck on terms like ganache, truffle, praline? Clay Gordon, chocolate expert and author of the new book Discover Chocolate, guides us through the basic Chocolate 101.

How to understand basic chocolate terms

What is a ganache?

  • A ganache is a mixture of chocolate and cream, or chocolate, cream and butter.

  • Some ganaches contain additional flavoring such as fruit, spice or alcohol. Ganache is a filling; it’s fairly soft so it has a lot of butter and milk in it.

  • A ganache can also be the foundation for a truffle - a ball of ganache rolled in a coating, such as cocoa powder or nuts.

Is there a different term to describe chocolates filled with cherries or liqueur?

  • The normal term to describe a chocolate containing alcohol is a ‘cordial’, especially if it has fruit.

What is a praline?

  • Praline is a word the Belgians use to describe a small candy that is typically called a bonbon. It’s a candy, not a bar.

  • You may see the word praliné with an accent over the e, it’s pronounced prah-lee-nay. Praliné is caramelized nuts that are ground up into a fine paste and added to the chocolate.

  • Pralines can also be flavored with spices such as the cinnamon praline featured here.




LISA: I’m Lisa Birnbach for howdini, when your shopping for chocolate do you ever wonder, hmm, what is a praline? What makes a chocolate a truffle? Here to explain these chocolate convections is Clay Gordan. Chocolate expert and author of Discover Chocolate. Okay, what is gnash?

CLAY: Gnash is a mixture of chocolate and cream, or chocolate and cream and butter, and optionally you can put another, some sort of flavoring in it. Actually a filling, its fairly soft, which means it has a lot of butter or milk in it. But when we’re cutting it up we’re looking to see if the, how thin the shell is, thinner is harder. And we are looking to see if the shell is even on all four sides.

LISA: Now what about, is there a different word to describe cherries or liqueur that you find in chocolates?

CLAY: Well the normal term we find for a chocolate with alcohol in it might be a corgel, especially if it has a fruit.

LISA: Okay, what’s a praline?

CLAY: So praline is a word that the Belgium’s use, where we would use bon-bon. So that means a candy, not a bar. Now you may see the word praline with a little accent over the e and that is pronounced praline.

LISA: Praline.

CLAY: And a praline is actually a caramelized nut that are ground up into a fine paste, and added to chocolate. And here we’re actually cutting into a praline, right, which is actually flavored with cinnamon.

LISA: Uh huh-

CLAY: A great chocolate is going to engage all of your senses.

LISA: Thanks Clay.

CLAY: It’s been my pleasure.

LISA: For I’m Lisa Birnbach.

meet theexpert
  • Clay Gordon

    Clay Gordon Author, Discover Chocolate Clay Gordon shares his passion for chocolate through writings, classes and events, and especially via the web at and He founded The New World Chocolate Society as a broader platform for consumer education. more about this expert »

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