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chocolates, filled

The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets
Miriam Kasin HospodarMiriam Kasin Hospodar

chocolates, filled, 

consist of a hard chocolate coating around a center, usually made of nougat, ganache, toffee, fruit, or nuts. They originated with the nineteenth-century invention of conching, which emulsified the chocolate and made it smooth. Previously, chocolate had been drunk as a beverage, or used as a gritty, oily paste to flavor pastries and sweets.

The first solid chocolate bar was produced in 1847 by Roger Fry in England. His company, Fry’s, also invented the first filled chocolate candy, Cream Sticks, in 1853. These were essentially sticks of mint-flavored boiled and hardened sugar dipped into melted chocolate. To produce the sweet on a larger scale, Fry’s created molds into which the mint sticks were placed, and melted chocolate was poured over them and allowed to set. In 1866 these candies were mass-produced as Fry’s Chocolate Creams.

In 1861 the English firm Cadbury offered the Fancy Box, a decorated box of chocolate candies filled with marzipan, orange, chocolate ganache, and fruit-flavored crèmes. Richard Cadbury imported a Parisian chocolatier to develop recipes for the fillings. The confections were christened with elegant French names, such as Chocolat des delices aux fruits.

In 1868 Cadbury created one of the Fancy Boxes in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day. Boxes of filled chocolates, heart-shaped and otherwise, quickly became widely associated with the holiday. See chocolates, boxed and valentine’s day. After the 1880s Swiss innovation of milk chocolate for eating (milk chocolate for drinking had been invented a few years earlier), Cadbury began to employ milk chocolate as a candy coating, calling it Dairy Milk. By 1910 the company had created Dairy Milk–coated candy Easter eggs. Whitman’s of the United States offered its Sampler box in 1912 and provided the first pictorial guides within the boxes to the fillings inside each chocolate.

A major step toward mass production took place in 1913, when Jules Sechaud of Montreux, Switzerland, invented machinery for filling chocolates. Two main methods of mechanically filling chocolate confections are used today:

  • Enrobing is the mechanized version of hand dipping. Hard-candy centers are placed on a wire mesh conveyor belt, or in containers with drain holes on the conveyor belt. The belt passes through liquid chocolate, kept at a controlled temperature, that completely coats the centers. The coating’s thickness is controlled by how fast the centers pass through the coating, and how much coating is applied. Another wire mesh conveyor belt propels the filled chocolates through a cooling tunnel or to a cooling area for the coatings to harden.

  • Shell molding, a process common in Europe, can be accomplished by hand or mechanically. Melted chocolate is poured into individual molds. The mold is then turned upside down to allow most of the chocolate to run out. The layer of chocolate left behind and now coating the mold cools and hardens. It is filled with a center, and then a layer of melted chocolate is applied over the top. After cooling, the filled candy is taken out of the mold. Alternatively, the filling is left uncovered, and identically shaped candies are sealed together with a little melted chocolate around the edges of the chocolate coating to form a rounded morsel, such as a three-dimensional ball or seashell. Shell molding presents the opportunity for a variety of intricately beautiful shapes as well as novelty gag forms.

The best filled chocolates are covered with couverture, meaning “covering.” Couverture contains at least 32 percent cocoa solids and has cocoa butter for its fat. Sugar and vanilla, plus a small amount of soy lecithin to keep the fat and chocolate from separating, are the remaining ingredients. The chocolate is then tempered, an exacting process of heating it to a specific temperature and cooling it down. Tempering imparts to chocolate coating a glossy appearance and a crisper texture. Tempering also gives coatings a longer shelf life and helps avoid “bloom,” when the cocoa butter and chocolate separate and white blotches appear on the finished product. Compound chocolate or compound coating, made with a smaller percentage of chocolate and vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter, is used in the production of lesser-quality filled candies.

One of the most universal and well-loved filled chocolates is the truffle, a spherical confection in which a chocolate coating surrounds a center of creamy chocolate ganache. The most common coatings are couverture or cocoa powder, sometimes with finely chopped nuts added. The ganache centers may be flavored with liqueurs and other additions. The best chocolate truffles are handmade, and can be concocted by home cooks with a fair amount of ease. See truffles.

Boxes of assorted filled chocolates with a variety of fillings remain ubiquitous in the United States and Europe. They are mass-produced by large companies in varying qualities. Small artisan businesses offer boxes of handmade assortments created from high-quality ingredients.

See also chocolate, luxury; chocolate, post-columbian; and chocolate, pre-columbian.


Cadbury, Deborah. Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry between the World’s Greatest Chocolate Makers. London: Harper, 2010.Find this resource:

    Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. 2d ed. New York and London: Thames and Hudson, 2007.Find this resource:

      Hopkins, Kate. Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy. New York: St. Martin’s, 2012.Find this resource:

        Miriam Kasin Hospodar