Dark chocolate ingredients

Dark Chocolate Ingredients, what does the percentage mean?

The percentage of cacao in artisan chocolate defines the proportion of dark chocolate ingredients, either solids or butter, originating from the cacao bean, in comparison to other components.

Suppose that an artisan chocolate bar has on its label “75%,” this means that three-quarters of this dark chocolate ingredients originate from cacao and the additional 25% may be made up of different elements. In high-quality artisan chocolates, sugar is the expected second ingredient.

For instance, in some countries, milk chocolate is made up only of 10%, or less cacao. The rest of it may be milk, fat from milk, solids from milk, sugar, soy lecithin, and a lot more ingredients that change the original cacao flavor. As a consequence, any imperfection of the cacao flavors and aromas becomes diluted. Ultimately, it ends up being a candy.

However, a higher cacao percentage in artisan dark chocolate bars does not mean better quality. It also depends, significantly, on its dark chocolate ingredients: the character of the cacao bean itself, the handling of the cacao, i.e., harvest, fermentation, drying, transport; and the dark chocolate making process, i.e., roasting, winnowing, refining, conching, tempering, and molding.   I have tried chocolates which labels read “dark” and a very high percentage, but are inedible.

In summary, from my point of view, I try to taste chocolates that specify not only the cacao percentage but also the dark chocolate ingredients' specifics, i.e., origin and the type of cacao used. Taking into account that if the proportion of cacao is higher, it should have less sugar and, of course, it is going to be less sweet. By doing this, one can learn about the different types of cacao, its origin, and then choose your favorites. Also, high-quality artisan chocolate makers value that, while making that artisan chocolate, all the processes are followed, starting from the harvest until it arrives at our hands or our mouths.

Daniel E. Martínez

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