When I first tried 99% dark chocolate – the Noir Infini from Michel Cluizel (not even the 100% variety which wasn’t produced much then) I hated it. It was bitter beyond belief and drew all the moisture out of my mouth. The reason back then was that I just didn’t know how to consume extremely bitter dark chocolate. If there’s any one thing I can pass on here and that’s 100% dark chocolate should definitely not be consumed as any other chocolate bar below the 90% cocoa solids level – for it’s a completely different type of chocolate at all. And here’s why.
** Update: You can now buy a wide range of 100% from Cocoa Runners.
100% dark chocolate doesn’t contain any sugar to sweeten, any vanilla to hide any deficiencies in the bean or any soya, or other type of lecithin, to aid viscosity in the production process – which makes chocolate an easier medium to work with. You could essentially say that 100% chocolate is more natural and original than anything else you can buy. The true fact is that modern techniques have brought ‘real chocolate’ in to the realms of acceptability because despite only being cocoa solids and cocoa butter that you can still have an incredibly smooth and agreeable texture.
But if 100% means without certain ingredients, what does it include?
That’s a perfectly valid question. There are many parts to the cocoa bean, the germinating part of a cocoa pod that can be used in chocolate production. For simplicity there are the cocoa solids, the cocoa butter and the nibs (outer shell of the bean). Essentially you’re consuming the seed of the Theobroma cacao.
Is 100% dark chocolate good for diabetics?
I’m not medically qualified so am in no position to state that. But controlling how much sugar (of all forms) is important to you then knowing that there is no added sugar in the chocolate you consume then knowing that 100% doesn’t have any sugar added in the production process should be significant to you.
If we take the 100% Grenada dark bar, for example. Per 100g of chocolate it has 0.3g of sugars. This is this is the naturally occurring sugars that haven’t been transformed when the beans have been roasted. The Malliard reaction does also work on the proteins in the bean to essentially turn them into antioxidants – which many have claimed are health fortifying.
How should I eat 100% dark chocolate?
Many diabetics consume any form of chocolate in moderation, even other high-cocoa solids chocolate at the 80% to 85% level which can be easily found in many supermarkets. And 100% dark chocolate should be consumed in similarly small quantities to get the best out of it.
My suggestion is to really savour the chocolate. Break off one small square and let it settle on the tongue and melt slowly. When I judge chocolate for the Academy of Chocolate or the International Chocolate awards, I consciously let the chocolate melt slowly without chewing. The heat from my mouth should be sufficient to melt high quality chocolate slowly. If it melts too quickly then you’ll know it has too much cocoa butter.
If you do have that patience then you’ll be rewarded with utterly fantastic flavours that do deliver a ‘real’ chocolate flavour. This slow melting process allows a manageable dose of flavour to be processed by your brain. Chewing will just overladen it with flavour and it’ll be represented as too bitter. Strangely doing it this way can actually come across as creamier as and less acidic than 75% chocolate that you rush by chewing.
What does it taste of?
For me it’s a wondrous flavour. Of course it’s intense, depending on which bar you try you’ll get different flavours. But often they have a rounded and fairly blunt acidity – nothing sharp or ‘off’ at all. You should also get some woody (of different types) notes and a good base of caramel. The thing is, it’s very hard to generalise. But being at the 100% level you know it’s going to offer more depth and intensity than most chocolate.
Is all 100% chocolate the same?
Definitely not. Just as any other chocolate by origin, conching time, roasting length, nature of fermentation and many other variables can alter the character of chocolate at a specific cocoa solids level – so can it at the 100% level. Just explore the chocolate you have and enjoy.