What does the "70% Dark" in dark chocolate mean, anyway?
Do you love dark chocolate - "the darker the better" - and yet occasionally find yourself wondering what chocolate "being darker" actually means? "70%" is darker than "60%", obviously, but 70% of what? What is 100% chocolate?
The percentage you see so prominently on the label of your favorite chocolate is referring to the percentage (by weight) of everything that came from the cocoa bean itself. That includes cocoa powder, cocoa butter, or ground up cocoa beans commonly refered to as cocoa content, cocoa solids, cocoa mass, or chocolate liquor. A higher percentage number on your chocolate means that there is more from the cocoa bean in the bar then lower percentage bars have. And what of the rest, the remaining 30% in your "70% Dark" bar? That's where the rest of the ingredients come into play - mostly sugar, vanilla, and a tiny bit of soy to keep the cocoa butter from migrating out.
So what's all this mean for your discriminating palate? The higher the percentage of cacao, the more pure your chocolate will be and the less sugar it will contain. Keep in mind that a high percentage does not guarantee the quality of the chocolate you are buying. It also does not mean that the chocolate will taste bitter as bitterness comes from low quality beans or poor processing of the beans. Conversely, it is entirely possible to have a 100% bar containing only cocoa butter. Chocolate percentages only tell you what came from the bean. Taste is an entirely separate matter all together!
Curious to try a few different percentages? Drop in our shop in Mt. Vernon to sample a variety of chocolates and see where it all gets made!