It’s time to rethink 100% chocolate bars.
Described to me by customers as bitter in flavour, chalky in texture and an overall nasty experience, doesn’t sound like there’s much to love about this sugarless chocolate.
But I’m here to share a very different perspective on these beautiful bars that will take your chocolate tasting experience to a new high.
Many bean to bar chocolate makers now offer a 100% bar in their collection. Why? If these bars are so horrible why are chocolate makers creating them? When asked why he makes his 100% bar, Erik Hansen, co-founder of Desbarres Chocolate says “because it’s the purest expression of the bean”. There’s nothing to interfere with the flavour of the bean. Pure cocoa bliss. And more and more customers are requesting them.
So, how do these makers get from bitter and chalky to pure bliss? How can they create something that’s so much better than our previous experience of the taste of 100% cocoa? First, let’s go back to what created our distaste for 100% cocoa. If you’re like me, that would have been with baking chocolate. As a child I ate whatever chocolate was available and this stuff was always in the cupboard. The stuff that came in thick squares to be chopped up and added to recipes calling for unsweetened chocolate. If that’s also your reference point I would agree that stuff was bitter and chalky! So forget about that and move on.
Fast forward to 100% bars of today.
There is still unsweetened chocolate for baking. And let’s use it for that purpose.
There are mass produced 100% bars with all sorts of claims that pretend to be the same as craft bars. Except the origin of the bean is never disclosed. And these bars contain cocoa powder that intensifies the chocolate flavour while minimizing the use of real chocolate and thus can be sold at a low price.
And there’s bean to bar hand crafted bars made with single origin cacao. One or two ingredients. Cocoa beans and maybe cocoa butter, which is the fat in the cocoa bean. The origin of the bean is clearly stated and many are single estate beans. Fine flavour beans that result in fine flavour bars.
Our recommendation when trying 100% bars, especially for the first time? Buy quality. Be prepared to spend a little more and and you’ll be in for an amazing experience.
Choose craft bars.
Craft makers select single origin cocoa beans of a fine flavour variety to create a bar without sugar. Cocoa beans are naturally acidic so choosing beans with low acidity are much less bitter and a good choice for 100% bars. Qantu Chocolate’s Chuncho 100% bar is made with single origin Peruvian beans from Ayacucho described as “cocoa so unique and soft that it can be enjoyed in 100% cacao”. Desbarres Chocolate chose single origin beans from Bachelor’s Hall Estate in Jamaica to craft their 100% Johnson Mountain bar because “these beans have very low acidity and a deep chocolate flavour…these characteristics make this 100% bar clean and smooth.”
Just as the cocoa selection is of great importance, so are the chocolate makers techniques. A lighter touch on the roast keeps the bar’s flavour from being too intense as well as reducing the “burnt” or “bitter” taste. For Firetree Chocolate’s single estate 100% bar they chose cocoa beans from Solomon Islands and “teased out the flavour notes of dates and rich cocoa during the long slow process of bean roasting…to drive out any bitterness…”
The combination of cocoa bean selection and chocolate making techniques really makes the big difference among 100% bars. Good-bye bitter and chalky and hello intense and smooth.
Initially intended for the chocolate purist, these bars are gaining popularity among chocolate consumers. Eaten slowly and attentively, their flavours can be fully enjoyed. They are also a wonderful companion to coffee, cheese and sweet wines. If you haven’t given them a try, it’s time!
Welcome to the Dark Side!