Revisiting Mast Brothers goat milk chocolate

Mast Brothers Goat Milk Chocolate ingredients label

Hello chocolate addicts!

Yes, I’m alive. It’s been a while since I’ve posted (because life). But I’ve been feeling inspired recently, so…

Actually, I lie. My writer’s block remains. But… I do want to share a recent experience I had with my favorite niche chocolate variety. That would be, of course, dark milk chocolate. In this case dark GOAT MILK chocolate.

Weirdly enough, the chocolate bar that inspired this post is actually made by one of my least favorite chocolate makers — Mast Brothers.

(Cue ominous music from Jaws.)

Actually, all joking aside, it was high time I gave the bearded brothers’ bars another chance. It had been two years since I’d last tasted their chocolate. In fact, I don’t think I’d sampled a Mast bar since they were outed by that Dallas Food article accusing them of… how to put this delicately… minor fibbing about their chocolate production practices.

In the last two years, not only has Mast rebranded (dropping the “Brothers” to become just Mast Chocolate), they also dramatically improved the texture of their chocolate. Gone is the grittiness and that caustic astringency so noticeable in their bars of yore. The new Mast bars are creamier, more balanced, and actually kind of… edible. Hurrah!

But I didn’t sit down to write this post in order to trumpet improvements at Mast Chocolate — far from it. What actually got me excited is the wide availability of their goat milk chocolate bar — not always an easy flavor to find (thank you Whole Foods). And the new, improved Mast goat milk chocolate bar is almost everything I want in a goat milk chocolate — it’s sour, funky, pungent, creamy and interesting in a way regular milk chocolate rarely is.

To be fair, I’m NOT suggesting you go out and buy this chocolate bar. In an old post reviewing Manoa’s goat milk chocolate, I linked to Estelle Tracy’s hilarious video of her reaction to trying goat milk chocolate. Needless to say, the flavor of goat milk chocolate is not for everybody!

But if you like super funky tasting milk chocolate, I highly suggest giving the Mast bar another chance.

Be sure to let me know what you think!

Tasting the original gianduja

Gianduia close-up of Gianduiotto by CaffarelGianduia close-up of Gianduiotto by Caffarel

Pop quiz: What event in the mid-1800s changed chocolate production in northern Italy forever?

If you answered the Great Cocoa Bean Shortage of 1840, you would be correct. At least in principle (whoever made up that name is clearly FOS though). 😉

Back in 1865, with the price of cocoa beans through the roof, a chocolate maker in Turin began augmenting his cocoa bean supply with hazelnuts, which (in Piedmont anyway) were plentiful and cheap. The resulting chocolate-hazelnut concoction was so delicious that it landed in the chocolate maker’s permanent rotation and inspired numerous imitators.

Gianduia close-up of Gianduiotto

That chocolate maker was Caffarel, and its chocolate-hazelnut invention is now known as gianduja (or gianduia, also correct). Caffarel called its original version “Gianduiotto.” Pietro Ferrero called his version Nutella.

I’ve wanted to try Gianduiotto for years, but it’s actually quite hard to find in the U.S., in my experience.

Ironically, I found it when I wasn’t even looking — in Canada! On a recent trip to Toronto, I dropped by St. Lawrence Market, where I stumbled upon Aren’t We Sweet, an unassuming family-run chocolatier with a little shop in the lower level. There, in a neglected corner of the shop, I found a huge box of individually wrapped Gianduiotti (an entire BIN!) shining in their signature gold foil.

I’ll cut to the chase: Gianduiotti are delicious. They’re the perfect portable chocolate treat, both practical and elegant.

That said, I still prefer the dark chocolate gianduja I recently raved about by La Molina, which is a lot less sweet and has more flavor nuance than Caffarel’s version (you can buy La Molina’s gianduja here). Still, it was exciting to finally get to taste the original recipe.

How about you – what are your favorite gianduja makers?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping spree in NYC

bean to bar chocolate bars, dick taylor, durci, bonnat, fruition

Bean-to-bar artisan chocolate barsDoes anyone else have this problem: every time you innocently wander into a chocolate retail store, you drop an obscene amount of money in a shockingly short amount of time.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

Recently, in the latest incarnation of my compulsive chocolate shopping habit, I poked my head into a new-ish chocolate retail shop in midtown Manhattan, 2beans.

I just wanted to pick up a bar of Francois Pralus. I swear.

I spent $110 in 30 minutes (of course I did).

It was a big chocolate haul, even for me. But I’m so glad I splurged, because these turned out to be some of the most delicious and surprising bars I’ve tried in quite some time. It was actually pretty hard for me to rate these because they were ALL fantastic.

But I’ll try my best.

So here you go folks: in descending order, from my very favorite to my least favorite. I’ve added links to online suppliers of these bars, in case you want to try them for yourself.

Heavenly:
Francois Pralus Venezuela 75% chocolate barFrancois Pralus Venezuela 75% (France):
Creamy, nutty and earthy, some may think this bar has too much added cocoa butter, but I think it’s perfect.Fruition 76% Maranon Chocoalte bar

Fruition Marañón 76% (US): Citrusy, balanced, a little astringent at the end but not over the top.

La Molina Gianduia Fondente e Nocciole Intere (Italy): Best. Dark. Gianduia. Ever. Not. Exaggerating.La Molina Gianduia Fondente with hazelnuts

Bonnat Surabaya 65% dark milk chocolate (France): Chocolat Bonnat Surabaya milk chocolateAn interesting, creamy, slightly sour dark milk chocolate with a hint of smokiness. It almost tastes like a goat milk chocolate (it’s not). I love pungent, funky-tasting milk chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with Bonnat.

Extremely tasty:

Durci Empyrean Sabor 70% (US): This is the second bar I’ve tried from Durci, and I Durci Chocolate Empyrean Sabor 70% darkwas surprised that these Venezuelan beans tasted as floral to me as the first bar I tried (Durci’s Corona Arriba bar, with Nacional beans from Ecuador). I wonder what I’m tasting that’s so floral. Is it something in the roast?Castronovo colombia dark milk chocolate

Castronovo Colombia 63% dark milk (US): One of the best dark milk chocolates I’ve tried recently from a North American chocolate maker. Interesting, earthy flavor notes, but super smooth and creamy like a European milk chocolate.

Tasty enough, but didn’t rock my world:

Fruition Hudson Valley Bourbon 61% dark milk chocolate (US): I was mildly disappointed by this bar. It’s good — everything Fruition makes is pretty awesome. But I had trouble detecting any bourbon or woody flavors, and it lacks the smoothness I want in a dark milk chocolate.

Dick Taylor craft chocolate Belize barDick Taylor Belize 72% (US): Everyone I know who has tried this bar has raved about it. I was expecting great things, which might be why I was a little disappointed. Its fruitiness is nice, but I find it VERY astringent.

Good, but a little boring:

Bonnat Java 65% dark milk chocolate (France): This is a fantastic dark milk chocolate, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the Surabaya.

Domori Criollo 70% Chuao (Italy): Very smooth texture, but I was underwhelmed by the bar’s flavor. It just seemed to lack nuance. To be fair, I only got to try a small sample, and I didn’t have a fresh palate, so I should probably give it another shot.

How about you — what were your favorite bars from you most recent chocolate shopping spree?

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Durci 70% Ecuadorian Chocolate

Durci 70% Dark Chocolate Bar

 

Thank you Choco Rush for introducing me to Durci, a fantastic new chocolate maker from the great state of Utah. Durci’s 70% Corona Arriba bar is made with the renowned Nacional heirloom cocao variety grown in Ecuador.

This particular bar is the most floral chocolate I’ve ever tasted. This may sound totally obnoxious, but the best way to describe the taste of this bar is to say that eating it is like stepping into a flower garden. The delicate, perfumey flavor reminds me of… roses. Or violets, maybe?

It was my husband who finally nailed it: the chocolate tastes like orange blossom water. He’s right. The Corona Arriba bar’s unique taste is strongly suggestive of the aromatic flavoring agent in my mother’s favorite cocktail, the uber-indulgent Ramos Gin Fizz.

If you’re hosting a chocolate tasting and want to include a floral chocolate in the mix, I recommend this one, hands down. You can order it on the Durci website or from the “Chocolate Collection” on Cococlectic.

Note: I noticed Durci is currently offering a special on their website– $45 for a sampler pack of six Durci bars from different origins. That’s about $9 less than you would pay for the six individual bars — a pretty good deal if you’re interested in trying out a fantastic new American bean-to-bar chocolate maker.

Review: Manoa 69% Goat Milk Chocolate

Goat cheese on crackers

I recently watched a very cute video by one of my favorite chocolate bloggers, Estelle Tracy of 37 Chocolates, who was reviewing Mast Brothers’ Dark Goat Milk Chocolate. I’m linking to Estelle’s full video here and encourage you to watch it if you have time, as it’s quite informative. But to sum up her review, she thought the chocolate tasted a little TOO much like goat cheese for her taste (truth be told, it’s not the first time I’ve heard negative things about that Mast Brothers bar, although I haven’t tasted it myself).

That said, I did recently try a 69% dark goat’s milk chocolate made by Hawaii-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker Manoa and LOVED it. I couldn’t put it down.

Before I say anything else, it’s worth noting that I actually love goat cheese. Be that as it may, I never thought cheese and chocolate went well together (there are exceptions, like this salty Parmesan dark chocolate by chocolatier Xocolatl de Davíd, and this tangy blue cheese milk chocolate by chocolate maker Lillie Belle Farms).

But back to Manoa.

First, a brief description of the bar: this is a VERY DARK dark milk chocolate bar. Because of that, I’m guessing the percentage of goat’s milk powder in this bar is quite low. Even so, it packs quite a flavor punch — the bar is tangy and a little sour, in a pleasant way. While the bar did have the characteristic mouth feel of a milk chocolate — that awesome milk fat melt — it’s a surprisingly uncreamy (that really should be a word) milk chocolate bar, bordering on chalky.

What I LOVE about this goat’s milk bar is that Manoa doesn’t use extra sugar to camouflage the sour goat’s milk flavor. Instead they let the potent astringency of their beans balance the lovely, funky, earthy goat’s milk. The overall effect is an addictive umami deliciousness.

I highly recommend seeking out Manoa’s 69% Goat Milk Chocolate bar, which you can buy on Manoa’s website or at specialty chocolate retailers. If not, I know you can sometimes buy it here on The Meadow’s site (and in their chocolate shops in Portland and New York). If you do end up trying it, please email me or post in the comments section of this blog and let me know what you think.

And as always, happy nibbling.

Review: Chococurb’s Nano Subscription

Seattle Chocolate's birthday cake confection

I have something awesome to share with you today.

One of my (other) favorite chocolate delivery companies, Chococurb, has a brand new offering that, as far as I know, is unique among the competion: a MINIBAR delivery service. Dubbed the Nano subscription, each delivery contains five minibars for $10. $10!! That’s the price of one Mast Brothers chocolate bar in some cities.

Here’s how it works. You either buy one shipment for $10, or a 6-month or 1-year subscription for slightly less. Each shipment contains five chocolate samples, each of which weigh between 0.2 and 0.9 oz (at least in the shipment I received). Which means you are basically paying $10 for 2 oz of chocolate. Which admittedly is a lot. But you get to sample five new hard-to-find chocolate makers for the price of one Mast Brothers bar. And shipping is included.

This may give you a better sense of the size of the bars:

I think the Nano subscription is a great deal*. Especially for lazy people like me who are happy to pay an extra few bucks to sample lots of hard-to-find chocolate brands without leaving the house.

I also think it’s a great idea from the Chococurb team. As far as I know, Choco Rush, Cocoa Runners and Cococlectic aren’t offering comparable minibar subscriptions — at least, not yet.

Btw, the 6-month and 1-year subscriptions make great gifts. And if someone close to you isn’t a chocoholic (which, frankly, I would find hard to believe), well… it was my birthday last week. Just sayin.

*UPDATE 8/19/16*

Get 10% off your Nano box subscription until September 19th by using the discount code INTEMPER at checkout.

Review: Choco Rush Chocolate Delivery Service

Choco Rush logo

A while back I reviewed two chocolate delivery services I’d tried, Cocolectic and Cocoa Runners. Well, today I have an entirely new chocolate delivery crush: Choco Rush.

Choco Rush is a craft chocolate subscription service out of South Carolina. But… who really cares where they’re based. Let me get to the point: Choco Rush totally rocks.*

Why all the love?

For starters, my first shipment included bars from three chocolate makers I’d never even heard of before, let alone tasted. So major props to them for promoting unsung chocolate makers that don’t yet have a national presence.

Another cool thing: the chocolate curators behind Choco Rush clearly have awesome taste, because two of the chocolate bars in my first shipment were blow-my-mind delicious (made by Durci and Hello Cocoa — find them!!)

Actually there is a third reason to love Choco Rush, now that I think about it, and it’s a really important one. Their customer service is outstanding!

It’s hard to understate how much this matters. If you sign up for one of these delivery services and live anywhere that sees temperatures over 85 F (which is pretty much everywhere right now), at some point you’ll probably find yourself emailing customer service to report some kind of melted chocolate shipping disaster. At Choco Rush, Chris Lacey was incredibly responsive and helpful when I was concerned about my shipping arriving on a particularly hot day (I needn’t have worried — the chocolate arrive unmelted and unbloomed, even in our lovely 95 F D.C. weather).

But what really hooked me on Choco Rush was how genuinely interested Chris seemed in my feedback on the chocolate bars they’d sent me. This is the fourth chocolate delivery service I’ve tired, but it’s the first to reach out to me directly to ask what I’d thought of their chocolate. And being a total chocolate nerd, I loved the opportunity to bounce my tasting notes off an expert who is friendly, knowledgeable and unpretentious. It reminded me once again what a great, welcoming community the chocolate world is.

OK, so here are the subscription details:

  • Each Choco Rush shipment includes four bars from different chocolate makers, shipped at the beginning of every month (so if you sign up for the service on the second week of the month, you’ll have to wait until the next month for your first shipment).
  • Their subscription choices include a month-to-month package for $39 ($9.75/bar), a 3-month subscription for $110 ($9.17/bar), plus a couple of longer subscriptions.
  • You can skip a month or cancel your subscription at any time, and shipping is free in the U.S.

I know $9+ is steep for chocolate, but remember your money is supporting small batch chocolate makers with relatively high overhead compared to large industrial chocolate producers. Plus they often pay direct trade prices (more expensive than fair trade) for their cocoa beans. So I think it’s money well spent.

But the real reason I think it’s worth it to pay $9/bar for chocolate is that Choco Rush takes both the legwork and guesswork out of finding awesome new chocolate makers. Not only will you be introduced to chocolate makers you’ve never heard of before, but the bars you receive will probably be delicious. For me, that alone make the service worth the premium.

Note: I am not a spokesperson for Choco Rush and didn’t receive payment (or free chocolate) for writing this. The views expressed below are mine alone.

Success: Aquafaba Mousse (Chocolate OR Vanilla)

Aquafaba mousse - chick pea liquid mousse

Aquafaba mousse - chick pea liquid mousse

A while back, I tried unsuccessfully to create chocolate mousse out of whipped chickpea canning liquid (aka aquafaba). I had such high hopes. But alas, after several failures in a row, I threw in the towel.

At the time I was making a lot of hummus and chickpea blondies (yes, they’re a thing), and I didn’t want to throw away all that (potentially) useful chickpea canning liquid. So… I saved it. Lots of it. And I tried again. This time, it worked.

What made the difference? I’ll share some tips further down in the post. But first, the recipe:

Recipe:

  • liquid drained from 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup confectionery sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: 1 tbsp cocoa powder (the dutch processed kind, if possible)

Directions:

Throw all ingredients except the optional cocoa powder in a bowl and whip with electric beaters on high for 6-12 minutes. Add the optional cocoa powder at the end, and be careful not to over beat it.

That’s it.

Tips & Suggestions:

  • Chill the liquid before you attempt to whip it.
  • Use the highest setting on your electric egg beaters. If you own powerful electric beaters, you should have stiff peaks in 6-7 minutes (if your electric beaters aren’t so powerful, this may take you 10+ minutes, but it will work… eventually).
  • Use real sugar. Liquid sugars like honey and agave might also work, although I haven’t tried them so I can’t say for sure. But don’t use stevia — it tastes awful in this recipe. Trust me on this one — this is chickpea liquid we’re talking about, it already has a weird aftertaste and stevia seems to accentuate it.
  • Flavor with vanilla extract, even if you’re making chocolate mousse. Vanilla masks the chickpea flavor quite well.
  • Don’t try to bake these. While I know numerous vegan bloggers (and the New York Times) have claimed that these can be baked into meringues, I’ve tried several times with no luck. I’m pretty much convinced it’s impossible. The “meringues” will melt into puddles after just a few minutes in the oven. Low heat, high heat — it doesn’t seem to matter, they deflate into sad little puddles. Then they burn. They smoke. They stink up your whole house. Your husband will shake his head in bemused resignation as he disables the smoke detector (again). Skip the meringues.

 

  • If adding cocoa powder:
    • Add the cocoa at the very end, after you’ve already whipped up a nice mousse. Also, since the cocoa powder will devolumize your mousse, you’ll need to eat this immediately.
    • To prevent over-mixing/deflation (see pics below), make a cocoa paste by adding a little chickpea liquid to the cocoa powder and stirring until smooth. Then FOLD the paste into the mousse using a spatula or wooden spoon. Don’t use electric beaters to do the mixing — you’ll deflate your mousse.
    • Use dutch processed cocoa powder, which is less acidic and dissolves more easily than the natural (undutched) type. Use only the bare minimum amount necessary to develop chocolate flavor (~1 tbsp for this recipe, give or take).
    • Try this recipe with real dark chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Melt the chocolate gently in the microwave (you can follow these instructions) and gently fold it into the whipped chick pea liquid. Then chill the mousse for a couple of hours to give the cocoa butter in the melted chocolate time to harden. The resulting mousse will be much longer lasting (and tastier) than the cocoa powder version. Just my $0.02.
Chocolate aquafaba mousse - chick pea canning liquid
Immediately after gently incorporating the cocoa powder
Chocolate aquafaba mousse - chick pea liquid
Over-whipping: 2 minutes later
Chocolate aquafaba mousse - chick pea liquid
Over-whipping: 5 minutes later

My personal feelings about aquafaba mousse? If you’re a vegan and have a killer craving for chocolate mousse, this recipe is for you. Otherwise… my honest opinion is that egg whites are a better foundation for a mousse. Even when pasteurized, egg whites whip faster, plus they hold their shape better when baked.

Intro to layered chocolates: caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond truffles

Caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond truffles

Caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond ganache

Full disclosure: I meant to write about this months ago. Seriously, I think there was still snow on the ground when I first made these delicious, creamy, double-ganache truffles. But at the time I was frantically trying to complete my chocolatier school coursework and didn’t really have time to pull this post together.

Anyway, enough with the excuses. Here it is (finally).

This was my first attempt at making layered truffles. Back in those early days of my chocolate education, I wasn’t exactly working with professional equipment… basically I owned a whisk, a candy thermometer and a lot of patience. I actually used Tupperware containers as my molds because I hadn’t bought a professional ganache frame yet.

ChocoVision Mini Rev Tempering MachineOh but I did own one very fancy piece of very fancy equipment: a brand new (at the time) ChocoVision Mini Rev tempering machine, which I absolutely LOVE and still use pretty much constantly. If you have any desire whatsoever to make your own chocolates, I highly recommend you invest in one of these bad boys. The 1.5 lb capacity model shown below is by far the cheapest small batch home tempering machine on the market.

But more on the ChocoVision Mini Rev in a later post.

Anyway… for this particular truffle recipe I made a caramelized white chocolate ganache for the bottom layer and a dark salted almond ganache for the top. I poured one over the other, smoothed them out with a spatula and let the layers set up at room temperature overnight.

Letting ganache set for 12-24 hours in a cool room (<68 F) gives it a chance to crystallize, which results in a more stable ganache that has lower water activity. To refresh, the lower the water activity, the less water (from the cream) is available to grow pesky microbes and the longer the truffles will last at room temperature before they mold.

Anyway — by the next morning the ganache was firm enough for me to unmold in one solid piece…

…and cut it into 1″ x 1″ squares with a sharp knife.

Here’s where the fun began (and, yes, the mess…)

After tempering some of Undone Chocolate’s amazing two-ingredient chocolate, I dipped each square (this process is called “enrobing”) in the bowl of tempered chocolate, fished it out with two special enrobing forks (although regular forks will work too) and sprinkled it with kosher salt.

I wasn’t working with professional couverture chocolate here, and as a result you’ll notice my shells turned out a little thick — but really they’re not so bad, especially considering my less-than-ideal tools (Tupperware, anyone?) and general inexperience..

Close-up of hand made chocolate truffles

Ever since I started making my own truffles, I’ve started noticing how many low and mid-range chocolate grands produce bonbons with really thick shells. Seriously — check it out for yourself the next time one of your colleagues leaves an old box of chocolates in the pantry at work. If nothing else, it’ll make you feel better if you’re having trouble achieving those wafer-thin chocolate shells that professional chocolatiers love so much.

My official tasters (aka my husband and stepson — and a rotating group of friends) went wild for these truffles. They got raves, which made me really happy. But personally I preferred the salted almond chocolate truffles (on the left in the picture above) to the fancier layered truffles. I just really loved their strong, undiluted almondy taste. But it’s really a matter of personal taste  — they’re both delicious.

Two layer truffle: caramelized white chocolate and dark salted almond

 

Homemade salted chocolate truffles

 

 

What does “70% chocolate” really mean? The answer may surprise you.

Raw cacao seeds and ground cocoa nibs

You know that 70% dark chocolate bar you bought recently? Did some teeny part of you feel pretty good about buying really dark chocolate because, well, dark chocolate is good for us now?

Would you be surprised to learn that there might be MORE good-for-you stuff in a 60% chocolate bar, or even a (gasp) milk chocolate bar, than in the 70% bar you picked up?

I know I was.

Here’s the issue: the cocoa % on chocolate bar wrappers doesn’t actually tell us how much chocolate is in our chocolate (if by chocolate we mean ground-up cocoa beans — the brown stuff with all the antioxidants). In fact, cocoa % is totally useless for that purpose. All we can reasonably expect to learn from the cocoa % is how much SUGAR has been added to our chocolate — and even that is only true for dark chocolate.

Confused yet? Let me try to explain.

What cocoa percentages really mean

First, the basics.

The average chocolate bar has five ingredients:

  • Chocolate liquor: ground-up whole cocoa beans. Contains both parts of the bean: the fat (cocoa butter) and the solids (unrefined cocoa powder)
  • Cocoa butter: extra cocoa butter increases creaminess and fluidity
  • Sugar: because, sugar
  • Lecithin: usually from soy beans, lecithin increases fluidity
  • Vanilla: while old style European chocolate traditionally includes vanilla, there has been a notable movement away from vanilla by today’s chocolate makers

Cocoa % = chocolate liquor + added cocoa butter

Total cocoa percentages include not just chocolate liquor, but also added cocoa butter. The amount of each ingredient need not be disclosed by the chocolate maker, and the ratio between the two ingredients can vary wildly. Dark couverture chocolate, which needs to be highly fluid if chocolatiers are to work with it, often has a nearly 1:1 ratio of cocoa liquor to cocoa butter. Eating and baking chocolates don’t need as much cocoa butter, so their ratio may be closer to 2:1.

Here’s where the confusion around cocoa % becomes an issue for consumers. Say you’re choosing between two chocolate bars with the exact same ingredients, listed in the same order. You’re frustrated because the ingredient percentages aren’t listed on the packaging. But as an experiment, let’s pretend for a moment that they are.

Here’s what you’d see:

Bar #1: 70% dark chocolate 

Ingredients:

  • chocolate liquor (66%)
  • sugar (29%)
  • cocoa butter (4%)
  • soy lecithin (<1%)
  • vanilla (<1%)

Bar #2: 70% dark chocolate

Ingredients:

  • chocolate liquor (41%)
  • sugar (29%)
  • cocoa butter (29%)
  • soy lecithin (<1%)
  • vanilla (<1%)

In both cases, the % chocolate liquor and the % cocoa butter add up to 70%. Both bars have the same amount of added sugar. However, the first bar contains 66% actual ground up cocoa beans, whereas the second bar contains only 41%. That’s a 25% difference. And as a consumer, you have no way of knowing which is which.

As if that’s not confusing enough, consider the ingredients list for this milk chocolate bar:

Bar #3: 60% milk chocolate

Ingredients:

  • chocolate liquor (42%)
  • sugar (25%)
  • cocoa butter (18%)
  • milk powder (14%)
  • soy lecithin (<1%)
  • vanilla (<1%)

That’s right — you could buy a dark milk chocolate bar and get MORE ground cocoa beans by weight than you would’ve if you’d bought the #2 dark chocolate bar above. So if you’ve been buying dark chocolate for health reasons, these numbers may give you pause.

The only way to really know exactly how much chocolate liquor is in your chocolate bar (besides calling the chocolate maker and asking) is by buying chocolate with no added cocoa butter. It does exist — chocolate makers sometimes call it “two-ingredient chocolate,” since this type of chocolate typically also excludes lecithin and vanilla. I like Undone Chocolate‘s two-ingredient bars, although admittedly I’m biased because I’ve spent a lot of time helping out in their shop. But many other chocolate makers make two-ingredient chocolate — Taza, Dandelion, Rogue and Sirene all do, just to name a few. I recently tried a great one — an 82% two-ingredient bar made with Peruvian beans by Maverick Chocolate, from Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find other two-ingredient brands at most good chocolate stores, or check out the selection at Chocosphere.

But here’s a longer term solution to the cocoa percentage problem: chocolate makers should provide consumers with the percentage of chocolate liquor or cocoa solids in their bars, not just the meaningless cocoa %. Giving consumers a breakout of exactly how much of a bar is made from whole cocoa beans and how much is added cocoa butter (which, btw, most chocolate makers buy in bulk from industrial manufacturers, although there are exceptions) would be a more honest, transparent way to market chocolate. It would also discourage chocolate makers from adding extra cocoa butter for the sole purpose of inflating their chocolate’s cocoa percentage.

Another perk: providing information about the percentage of chocolate liquor in chocolate might even boost sales of dark milk chocolate, which is poised to be the next big thing in high end chocolate. But I’ll save that for another post.

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