If you’ve seen any of our boxes, cards or paraphernalia, you’ll notice we often use the slogan “Eat Real Chocolate.” What do we mean? Well, we’re implying a few things:
- We encourage you to eat dark chocolate, because if it’s not at least half chocolate (50%) and ideally around 70%, how can you consider it real chocolate? If it’s loaded with sugar or other ingredients, that’s not chocolate, it’s candy.
- We encourage you to eat high quality chocolate made from real and natural ingredients.
- We encourage you to eat chocolate that does not have too many additional ingredients, or too much additional cocoa butter (that’s cheating), or where the cacao bean has been overly processed to a flat taste with no personality (taste the bean)!
Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate
There’s a lot of research on the health benefits of dark chocolate. Chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols and flavanols, even more so than wine. Chocolate’s main ingredient appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve vascular health and slow the aging process. That’s a lot of powerful stuff! Dark chocolate is also rich in fiber, and loaded in minerals like magnesium, iron and copper.
All these benefits come mostly from darker chocolate, the more cocoa the better! Many sources cite that the minimum amount of cocoa percentage we should look for is at least 70 percent. That’s why for our subscription boxes, we feature mostly dark chocolate at around 70% or above. Read some articles with evidence to support the above statements here, here and here.
What is Real Chocolate Made From?
Real chocolate is made from super simple, and very few ingredients. Ideally, most of the chocolate bar you consume should contain 2-3 ingredients:
- Cacao (sometimes broken into cocoa mass + cocoa butter)
- and sugar.
That’s it. Some chocolate makers will add a few other minimal ingredients that we consider acceptable (though not ideal) in order to ease the chocolate making process, or to enhance the flavoring of their bars. These acceptable ingredients include:
- Vanilla (the real kind not the fake vanillin stuff)
- Soy lecithin (used as an emulsifier)
- Milk powder (for the ever popular dark milk, and milk bars)
- Honey (as a substitute for sugar)
Anything other than the above (aside from inclusions like salt, nuts, fruit) does NOT go into real chocolate. Watch out for ingredients like partially hydrogenated palm oil, corn syrup, any chocolate or cocoa powder processed with alkali, carrageenan, or any artificial coloring or flavoring. These are not acceptable, and should not go in your mouth.
Good Chocolate Makers Strive for Purity
The chocolate makers we like to work with highlight their pure dark bars. While inclusions such as nuts, fruits, and other things are tasty, I think the pure bars are the ultimate test of a good chocolate maker. What can they do with just chocolate as the ingredient, with nothing else to hide behind?
And while not always easy, I believe that good craft chocolate makers allow the personality of their beans to shine through. Over conching the chocolate can make the chocolate more “accessible” and familiar to the general public but this over conching can also take away the subtle flavors from that bean variety and origin, making the chocolate flat tasting.