08 Aug THE HALACHOS AND KASHRUS OF CHOCOLATE
A visitor to a
supermarket is struck
by the vast array
of chocolate items
for sale, such as
cake, chocolate milk,
chocolate cookies and
the like. There is also
a vast array of halachic
issues which apply to
chocolate. Is one allowed
to drink hot chocolate before davening? What
beracha is made on chocolate? Is a beracha
achrona recited on hot cocoa? What beracha is
made on chocolate covered products, such as
chocolate covered raisins? How is a chocolate
machine kashered? Does bishul akum apply to
chocolate? These questions as well as others
will be answered at length in this article.
Background – Chocolate Manufacturing
Chocolate is born in a cacao tree. The tree
produces a fruit about the size of a small
pineapple. Inside the fruit are the seeds known
as cocoa beans. The beans are roasted to
bring out the flavor, and are then winnowed
to remove the meat of the bean from the shell.
This is known as a nib. Cocoa beans are half
fat. Therefore, the nibs turn into a liquid
when ground, called chocolate liquor. If the
chocolate liquor were allowed to cool and
solidify, it would be unsweetened chocolate.
Another option is to squeeze out the fat from
the cocoa bean. The resulting dry bean can be
ground into cocoa powder.
Our chocolate products have added
ingredients such as sugar, milk (see below),
and other flavors. The chocolate goes into
a conch, which is a machine that refines the
chocolate and blends it into a smooth paste
(see below regarding kashrus). Milk chocolate
is a combination of chocolate liquor, milk,
sugar and cocoa.
Drinking Hot Chocolate Before Davening
Since hot chocolate is a rich drink made with a
lot of milk, it is questionable if it is permitted
to drink prior to davening.
Beracha on a Hot Drink
One should make sure that he can drink
the beverage before reciting the beracha.
Therefore, one should allow his hot cocoa to
cool before reciting a beracha.
Chocolate During a Meal
One who eats chocolate during a bread meal
must recite a shehakol on it, as it is not covered
by the beracha recited on bread.
Beracha on Chocolate
The halacha is that a food which is normally
consumed only after being ground retains
its original beracha. The Shulchan Aruch
applies this to sweetened ground spices. Since
spices are routinely powdered, the beracha is
ha’etz. Accordingly, the beracha rishona on
chocolate should be a ha’etz since it comes
from the cocoa bean which is the fruit of a
tree. However, the overwhelming custom is to
recite a shehakol on chocolate since the bean
is altered when it is processed into chocolate.
Others explain that the chocolate in the bean
is not eaten as is, and is mixed with other
ingredients. Therefore, it is considered the
miyut (minor ingredient) and the beracha is
a shehakol. Another explanation is that when
the bean is modified to the liquid state, it is
a new entity which is not recognizable that it
came from a bean at all. Therefore, its beracha
would change to a shehakol. In any case, the
custom is to recite a shehakol on chocolate.
One who recited a ha’etz on chocolate was
yotzei b’dieved and does not have to recite a
There is a big discussion in the poskim
regarding a beracha achrona on a hot drink
(i.e. coffee, tea or hot cocoa), since one does
not drink the liquid within the allotted shiur
(kedi sh’tiyas reviis). Some say that since
these beverages are intended to be consumed
hot, a beracha achrona may be recited, as it
is the derech to sip them slowly. However,
the opinion of many poskim is that a beracha
achrona is not recited. Others say that in order
to go satisfy all opinions, one should let a
reviis of the drink cool off at the end and recite
a boreh nefoshos on that shiur. Some poskim
suggest that one should put a sugar cube in
his mouth so that the beracha achrona on the
sugar will exempt the coffee, tea or hot cocoa.
Sucking on Chocolate
No beracha achrona is recited if one sucks
on chocolate without biting it, since it is not
the normal manner of eating. In addition,
the amount of chocolate that would require a
beracha achrona is not consumed within the
shiur of kedei achilas pras.
Chocolate Covered Raisins – If one likes both
the raisins and the chocolate, the opinion
of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l is that two
berachos are recited. First recite a shehakol on
the chocolate, and then a ha’etz on the raisin.
When reciting the shehakol, one should have
in mind not to exempt the raisins with the
Many say that a beracha is only recited on
the majority ingredient, which is defined
by personal preferences. If one likes both
raisins and chocolate, and views the chocolate
as enhancing the raisin, then the ha’etz on
the raisin will exempt the chocolate from a
beracha. If he views the raisin as an enhancer,
then the shehakol on the chocolate will exempt
the raisin from a beracha.
The same discussion applies to chocolate
covered fruits or other items.
Chocolate Bar with Almonds – Almonds
in a chocolate bar are the minority and an
enhancing ingredient; therefore, the shehakol
on the chocolate covers the almonds as well.
Chocolate Covered Peels – A food which
is normally not eaten alone and is covered
in chocolate would only require a shehakol
on the chocolate. One example is chocolate
covered orange peels.
Chocolate Milk – The beracha on chocolate
milk is a shehakol.
Many chocolate products made by Elite in
Eretz Yisroel state the beracha on the package.
Hilchos Shabbos – Coloring – Losh
Most poskim say that just as there is no
problem of coloring food (according to most
poskim) on Shabbos, there is also no problem
of coloring drinks. Others say that coloring
drinks would be problematic.
The poskim say there is no concern of coloring
liquids when putting milk into black coffee,
or with placing chocolate syrup into milk.
(However, one must avoid any problems of
Writing with Chocolate Syrup
Some desserts are decorated with a chocolate
swirl. The question is whether this is
considered writing, which would be forbidden
on Shabbos, or if it is a simple decoration.
The opinion of Harav Yisroel Belsky Shlita is
that this is permitted.
Breaking Chocolate with Letters on it
It is very common for chocolate to have
images or letters engraved in the chocolate
itself. There is a big discussion in the poskim
whether one may break food with letters
written on top, or if it is considered “erasing”
The advice of the Mishnah Berurah is that if
the letters are not part of the food itself, then
one may not break the food; he may only place
the food in his mouth, even though the letters
or image will break. A food which has writing
engraved in it may be broken on Shabbos. One
is permitted to allow a young child to take a
piece of food that contains letters even if he is
going to break the letters.
Kashrus of Chocolate – Kashering
Besides dairy chocolate, many products are
made with pareve chocolate. Therefore, a
company would need to kasher the equipment
if it wishes to make both dairy and pareve on
the same machinery. Most of the production
of chocolate does not require heat except
the conch (see above). Chocolate companies
are unwilling to introduce water to the
chocolate machines, since it can potentially
damage the product. An alternative may be
to run chocolate through the system once and
consider it kashered. However, this approach
is a dispute among poskim.
The Rama says that one should not kasher
with any liquid other than water, but b’dieved
one is allowed to use “other liquids” to
kasher. A pressing situation has the status of
b’dieved. Based on the above, some kashrus
organizations permit a company to make dairy
and pareve chocolate on the same equipment
after a “kashering” of chocolate in between.
Those who do kasher with chocolate do
not have to wait twenty-four hours before
The opinion of the OU is that since chocolate
becomes solid at room temperature it may not
be used for kashering. This applies even if
one were to follow those opinions that permit
kashering with other liquids. Therefore,
their policy is to have two separate systems
for pareve and dairy chocolate. Many other
kashrus agencies follow this opinion.
Chocolate Candies for Children after Meat
A child three years and younger does not have
to wait between eating meat and dairy. One
may feed him dairy directly after meat if this is
good for the child. However, the child’s mouth
should be cleaned out well. A child over three
years old should be trained according to his
ability to wait additional time, increasing the
time each year. A child 9-10 years old should
wait the appropriate six hours. Harav Yisroel
Belsky Shlita holds that the child should wait
six hours when he starts going to school (This
is approximately 6-7 years old).
Some say that a child should not be given dairy
chocolate candies until six hours have elapsed
since he ate meat, since it is not something he
really needs (i.e. supper).
Chocolate which is eaten as snack is not
subject to the halachos of bishul akum since
snacks are not fit to be served at a king’s table.
In the event that one is eating a fancy chocolate
served at a glamorous meal, then bishul akum
may apply. However, since the heat from the
conches (see above) is generated from the
friction of the rollers, it is comparable to an
alternative method of cooking which is not
subject to bishul akum. Some say that since
chocolate is a sweet and not eaten together
with bread, it is not subject to bishul akum.
Chocolate syrup is not subject to bishul akum
since it is eaten as a tafel to other foods at a
Milk chocolate is manufactured with
powdered milk, as are various cakes and
cookies. Powered milk is made by spraying
milk into a spray dyer, which turns the milk
into a powder. Many poskim are of the opinion
that one who is makpid to avoid drinking
chalav stam should not consume powered
milk. Although some poskim are lenient, the
overwhelming custom is to be stringent.
Chanukah chocolate gelt sometimes has the
words “in G-d we trust” stamped on it. The
question arises whether one is allowed to eat
it, since he is erasing the name of Hashem
(albeit in a different language). Some say that
l’chatchilah one should not purchase such
chocolates; however, if they were already
purchased they can be eaten, for eating is
not considered erasing since it is the normal
manner to eat it. Others say that one can
purchase it even l’chatchilah and rely on
those poskim who maintain that it is permitted
to erase the name of Hashem in a different
language. This seems to be the custom of most