Chocolate Percentages – What you Need to Know!
I don’t know about you but chocolate percentages confuse me. I always assumed that bigger was better in both quantity and quality. Alas, when I did a bit of digging I found out what the real story was.
Unwrapping Chocolate Percentages
The higher the percentage the higher the quantity of cocoa(or cacao) in a chocolate bar but it’s not an indicator of the quality of beans used. measures quantity, not quality.
Simply put the percentage on a chocolate bar tells you how much of the bar, by weight, is made from pure cocoa beans, or parts thereof e.g. cocoa butter (the fat portion of the bean) and nothing to do with quality.
BEANS + any extra parts of beans(cocoa butter)
= cocoa percentage
I’ve tasted high-percentage bars that were terrible and low-percentage bars that were exquisite. In the two bars featured above (both 70 percent) the craft maker Bahen & Co uses only the highest-quality cocoa beans, while large chocolate companies like Lindt use cheaper beans, using sugar and vanilla to enhance the flavour.
“Craft makers use the highest-quality cocoa beans…so when you pay more for a craft chocolate bar, you’re paying for quality, regardless of the percentage.”
– Megan Giller
So why choose craft?
When you choose a craft chocolate bar and pay more, you’re paying for quality, regardless of the percentage. And the recent explosion of boutique craft chocolate makers in Australia and internationally shows how consumers want better chocolate – from bean-to-bar.
And for these craft chocolate makers, it’s all about quality, they don’t just make the chocolate they go to painstaking lengths to source the best quality beans and even build relationships with farmers that sustainably produce those varieties. Helping grower’s at the source and the quilty and tase of the end product, which is great news for the 14.2 million chocolate-loving Australian consumers.
Anatomy of a chocolate bar
So we’ve gone through the 70% but what about the other 30% what’s that made up of? In the case of chocolate percentages “more means less”, and by that, I mean when a bar has more cocoa it has less sugar/milk etc.
Let’s take a closer look at a 70% chocolate bar to understand how these ingredients affect the cocoa percentage. Thanks to Theo Chocolate for the great visuals.
So theoretically a chocolate bar labelled 45% will be noticeably sweeter than one labelled 70%. But it’s not that simple because two different chocolates with the same percentage can vary noticeably in sweetness, flavour, and intensity.
Cocoa butter could make up a larger portion of the 70% and when that is added it makes chocolate creamier, whereas the cocoa bean mass increases flavour intensity giving that strong chocolatey taste we all love.
It’s also down to the quaily of the beans used in each bar and how much cocoa butter versus been making up the percentage mix.
So to wrap up, cocoa percentage measures of quantity, not quality. And craft is always best!
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