Since we’ve been told that dark chocolate is better for us, it has made us all very aware of that percentage rating on our chocolate; but is the darker, the better?
The percentage rating indicates how much of the cocoa solids have been used to make the chocolate.
How much cocoa?
There are different regulations across the world for what is classified as milk or dark chocolate, so always read the ingredients to get the best understanding of cocoa solids and the addition of milk or dairy or addition of sugar or other emulsifiers. What one company may label as dark may be considerably different to another.
Dark chocolate’s popularity is partly due to being seen to have high health benefits and thus being better for you to eat. Dark chocolate can be anything with cocoa solids of 55 percent or more. The solids are the part we need to understand and look for when looking at bars. The higher the percentage, the darker the chocolate is and more intense the taste but this doesn’t mean it is better or worse, there’s just more cocoa in it and there are plenty of dark chocolates that aren’t well balanced and don’t taste great! A good general rule for baking is to look for a chocolate with around 70% cocoa solids to give a nice balanced taste and profile that will stand up to baking or cooking.
Milk chocolate has less cocoa solids (25 percent solids upwards to 55 percent) and the addition of milk or milk powder. A milder and perhaps more child-friendly chocolate, this is the format most used for sweets.
Technically not genuine chocolate, as it contains no cocoa solids at all, but plenty of cocoa butter and plenty of sugar and milk (dairy), this is still mainly regarded as part of the range.
These are some of our favourite 70% chocolate picks in store at the moment. If you haven’t already, you must try them and find your own favourite.
HOGARTH CRAFT CHOCOLATE: AKESSON ESTATE, MADAGASCAR 70%
Such bright fruitiness! The amazing local organic direct trade cocoa yields berry and raisin bittersweet notes making it an absolute juicy mouthful.
SOLOMON’S GOLD, SMOOTH DARK: 70%
Trinitario cocoa grown in the Solomon Islands gives this beautifully dense, rich chocolate made with coconut sap sugar tones of smoke and leather with hints of cherry.
WELLINGTON CHOCOLATE FACTORY: PERU NORANDINO 70%
Made using the rare Criollo cocoa, this is a special bar with warming tones of cashews, apricot and honey.
HOGARTH CRAFT CHOCOLATE: CONACAD, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 70%
Citrus and toffee make a perfect combination especially when that toffee has a touch of burnt sugar about it too. Such beautiful bright acidity that makes every bite a delight from this co-op run organization.