Dark Chocolate Shopping

Dark Chocolate in Your Mouth (January 2021 Edition)

Everything I have to say here at the outset only applies if you are consciously trying to get at (or under) the FDA and WHO recommended levels of “added sugar” intake of 25 grams a day. Simply adjusting to dark chocolate at the 100% level is probably difficult if you still have added sugar intake from processed foods and traditional baked goods. My hypothesis is that you need to wean yourself completely from the higher levels of sugar-taste, which takes time, the same way that you wean from the salt-taste when you remove it.

It is always tempting to say that the 100% level is an acquired taste, but I think it is the opposite: sugar needs to be an abandoned taste. You need to wean yourself from how much sugar you need to get a sweet taste, throughout your diet, because you are numb to it. I am pretty convinced that un-weaned taste buds are firing out of balance when you go start from a sugar-filled diet and taste 100% chocolate (hence the hyper-bitter taste). My personal experience is the equivalent of what happens when you wean off salt: you realize that you needed more and more salt get the salt effect, and when you stop using it, you can ultimately taste it at a much lower level (and the “normal” levels taste insanely salty).

As I said elsewhere, I could never even stand the flavor of “dark chocolate” and now that I take in about 10-13 grams/day of sugar, I am pretty sure I can pick up a distinctively horrid sugar taste even in the 99% chocolate. It might even make sense, historically, how this balance of sugar and cacao developed based on the prevailing diet. The Europeans are the ones who added sugar to the Central and South American delicacy, whereas the native consumers did not.

I stopped using salt years ago, and I would say that it took 3-4 months to start tasting “regular” levels of salt as insanely high, and probably 9-10 months before I started tasting added sugars the same way.

So, if you are heading towards low sugar (overall), then headed towards 100% chocolate might be in the cards for you. On the other hand, your equilibrium point might be different than that, and all of these makers usually sell chocolate in the 50-60% range and 75-85% range.

For melting and using for coatings, I favor the Belgian maker, 100% Callebaut, which you can find in speciality markets and online (https://www.callebaut.com/en-US). And for powdered chocolate that dissolves well in (e.g.) your hot latte, or also if needed in cooking, I favor the 100% Droste cocoa powder brand, a Dutch (and dutched) chocolate, which is widely available. I carry little containers of this when I go to Starbucks and add a couple of tablespoons of it to my latte. I have also melted the 100% Lindt bars and used them in, e.g., brownies.

Callebaut bulk                                         Droste Cocao







Lindt (https://www.lindtusa.com)

I’ll start with Lindt, which can be you gateway drug because it is sold everywhere in the world, it is inexpensive, and it comes in 70%, 78%, 85%, 90%, 95% and 100%. I stopped eating chocolate for a while, then tried the 70% bar and I was shocked at the pleasant taste. As the months went by, it started tasting unpleasantly sweet so I would then climb the percentage ladder.

The Lindt chocolate is really smooth and has a nice taste, although it is a one-note, super-homogenous taste that does not compare to the more complex bean-to-bar chocolates made by the boutique makers. That is not really a criticism, because it is a pretty rich chocolate taste. I also melt these bars for making rich brownies.














The following makers are my current favorites. I store chocolate in a cool, dry place. I favor smooth textures, creamy when I can get it, where the room temperature chocolate melts readily in your mouth. The tropical beans have distinctive fruity flavors that vary from bean to bean and country to country.

I buy my chocolate from “Bar & Cocoa,” and online dealer who imports a lot of chocolate (https://barandcocoa.com). The price-per-bar is a little higher than from the original companies but given that they are often in Europe and charge shipping (while you can order enough for free shipping from B&C), it is pretty much a wash from a cost standpoint and a win from convenience. B&C also does a nice 10-15% off the order deal every now and then, so I wait for that and then restock the larder as soon as I get the email notice of an upcoming sale.

I put the links to the companies, but all of these (except one) are available through Bar & Cocoa.

My top ‘go-to’ bars (any mood, any time): Åkessons and Ritual

Åkessons (http://www.akessons-organic.com)
These Swedish-made bars have a great taste and great texture. If I had to take one bar on my desert-island exile, I would take this one.











Ritual (http://www.ritualchocolate.com)
A smooth blend made in the US. Closest to the Lindt bars with that familiar “American Chocolate” taste, but with a distinctive richness.












Not available from B&C, but I discovered this San Francisco maker while in SF (a couple of the stores in the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street).










Chocolarder 100% (https://www.chocolarder.com)
Smooth and fruity, full range of flavors.









Chocolat Bonnat 100% (https://bonnat-chocolatier.com/en)
Brazilian cacao made in France. Super creamy.










Francois Palus Le 100% (https://www.chocolats-pralus.com/en/our-chocolate.html)
Madagascar chocolate made with Criollo beans, which carry a little touch of bitterness. Overall creamy texture with strong fruity flavors.









Domori (https://domori.com)
An Italian maker using the Criollo beans from Venezuela.









Michel Cluizel Noir Infini 99% (https://cluizel.us)
Blended cocoa from South America, Central Africa & Java. This one is about a “strong” a taste that I enjoy. Smooth with a slightly bitter twang and a good aftertaste.