Acquiring a Taste for Dark Chocolate
Introduction to Chocolate
For many an era, chocolate was considered to be of no nutritional value, on an equal level with any other confectionery. In recent years, however, scientists have discovered that chocolate – more specifically dark chocolate – is a nutritional gold mine.
Cacao contains a substantial concentration of polyphenols, tannins, and flavonols. These are powerful antioxidants that reduce one’s risk of the deadliest of diseases. Most people cannot stand the bitterness of 100% raw cacao. I have tried it, and there is no chance I could eat it on a regular basis. But mix that cacao with a confectionery blend, and you have a very delectable product called chocolate, one of the most popular dessert foods. An important thing to remember is the less processed it is, the more nutritional benefits it will have. Dark chocolate is less processed than milk chocolate, and it has a much higher concentration of cacao. When you see a chocolate bar with a percentage number, that refers to the percentage of cacao the chocolate contains. For these reasons, to get substantial nutrition from chocolate, you need to eat dark chocolate. Many people find dark chocolate to be too bitter to enjoy. I was one of those people once upon a time. I will share with you in this article how I managed to build up an acquired taste for dark chocolate, to the point that I now with many brands prefer the taste of it to milk chocolate.
Building Your Taste
If your taste buds have an above average sensitivity and you are used to only eating milk chocolate, you probably should start out at the lowest end of what is considered dark. Milk chocolate generally contains a percentage cacao somewhere in the 30’s. Select a brand that has about 55% cacao to start. If you are able to eat a lower end dark chocolate, you might want to select a brand in the 60’s. What you want to do is not to select the highest percentage you LIKE, you want to select the highest percentage you can STAND. The percentage should be bitter enough that it does not yet taste good to you, but not so bitter that you can’t even put it in your mouth.
When you find your starting percentage, the darkest you can stand, eat two squares of that every day for at least three weeks. By the third week, it should be considerably more enjoyable than the first week. The goal here is to build up an affinity to chocolate that is AT LEAST 70%, but it is more desirable to be able to enjoy percentages in the 80’s, or even 90’s.
When you have built up an affinity for the level in the 60’s, then try the 70%. Sometimes brands have a considerable jump in levels. For instance, Lindt has a 70%, then an 85%, Ghirardelli has a 72%, then an 86%. If after building an affinity for 70% you find that 85% is too big a jump for you to stand, try blending them in your mouth. Take one square of 70%, one square of 85%, and stack them together, and bite small amounts at a time from the double square. It will be a 7.5% jump instead of 15%. Then after building an acquirement, then try the 85% by itself.
Variables to be Aware Of
When first building an acquired taste to dark chocolate, I advise you to use the same brand. Brands are not created equal in terms of bitterness. Different confectioners use different cacao beans, that come from various regions of the world. There are genetic variations, as well as variations in how they are raised, which leads to taste and bitterness variations. There are also variations in the chocolate making process by the confectioners. 85% Valrhona will not necessarily have the same bitterness level as 85% Lindt. I recommend Lindt or Ghirardelli bars to start building your taste. They are not elite brands, but they are good brands, readily available in most grocery stores, and not overly expensive. If you have built a taste into the mid to high 80’s, and start venturing into other brands, I would buy the next grade lower the first time to make sure the bitterness isn’t overwhelming.