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what do chocolate percentages mean?

Unpackaged chocolate bars

what do chocolate percentages mean?

one of the most frequently asked questions here at the chuao joy factory and chocolatier is “what does the percentage on a chocolate bar mean?” the simple answer is that it tells you how much of the bar, by weight, is made from pure cacao beans - the rest of the bar being comprised of sugar and milk, depending on whether it is dark, milk or white chocolate.

however, this can become a bit complicated because the cacao bean includes cocoa solids, the bitter notes that typically intensify the more pure or darker the chocolate, and cocoa butter, the creamy, fatty portion of the bean. both of these components are added into the overall chocolate bar percentage, and they taste very different.

to make chocolate, the cocoa solids and cocoa butter are ground to create cocoa liquor, which roughly contains equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. but the ratio of solids to butter can vary depending on the desired flavor outcome. therefore, two chocolate bars with the same cocoa percentage can have very different sweetness and intensity levels depending on the makeup of the liquor (as well as the flavor profiles of the beans).

additionally, more cocoa butter can be added to increase the creaminess of the bar and is sometimes a practice used by large-scale commercial chocolate companies to increase the bar’s percentage and mislead the consumer into thinking they are purchasing a healthier and more flavorful bar.

what is the makeup of a chuao chocolate bar?

here at chuao, the chocolate liquor used is straight artisan craft liquor, which means that additional cocoa butter is not added to the liquor. this creates chuao’s signature fruity notes and aromas that won’t be found in other commercial chocolate.

chuao owner and chocolatier michael antonorsi describes our base chocolate as “venezuelan at its core,” using a mix of cocoas that bring a tart, fruity note forward, reminiscent of the chocolate produced in the chuao region. our base chocolate has a cocoa mass of 60%, which chef michael says is the perfect percentage to create a chocolatey bar without overpowering the additional flavor notes added to our bars, such as roasted nuts, marshmallows and pretzels, to name a few.

if you’re wondering whether these inclusions affect the percentage of the chocolate bar, they do not. the percentage refers to the base chocolate only.

is dark chocolate a healthier option?

dark chocolate is typically a healthier option than milk or white chocolate because it contains more chocolate liquor and less sugar. this liquor contains lots of healthy fiber, protein and healthy fats. magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants are also found in pure chocolate liquor, which is also gluten and dairy free.

what about white chocolate?

white chocolate is a combination of cocoa butter, milk and sugar in roughly equal measure. what is interesting about this is that while white chocolate bars taste very sweet, they can sometimes have less sugar added than even dark chocolate bars. if a white chocolate bar has roughly 33% sugar, it has less sugar than a 60% dark chocolate bar, which would have 40% sugar. because of the bitter notes from the cocoa solids, the dark chocolate bar will still taste less sweet than the milk chocolate. so if your diet is sensitive to sugar, it is always important to read the label to get a true read on sugar content.

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