I had to replenish our chocolate supply. Down to just a few chocolate covered almonds and espresso beans, it was time to restock. We’d converted to dark chocolate ages ago, given reports that it—like drinking red wine— promotes good heart health and more. Of course, like all dieting, moderation is stressed. Binging on chocolate, no matter its hue, isn’t going to do anything good.
Health aside, I love chocolate. I keep a few bars around, some flavored, some nutty, some plain. I break off a little chunk and have a quick nibble on the run. (These are the calories that don’t count, right?)
So it was alarming to read that prices for dark chocolate are rising thanks to the lack of rain that affected the cocoa bean harvest. Yet like many luxury products, price increases don’t always turn customers away. And chocolate is chocolate.
Growing up, I ate those Hershey’s Milk Chocolate squares. My father ate the ones with peanuts and my mother liked the dark chocolate, something I never understood, deciding it must be an adult taste. I loved Mounds bars and milkshakes made with Hershey’s syrup and that probably covered my chocolate menu. By high school, I started eating hot fudge sundaes with my best friend Kathy; it was the only way to solve our multitude of problems. And then there was the time my sister Madeline and I ate an entire cartoon of Heavenly Hash ice cream one day after school. Well, that was then.
Now, not only do I need to select flavors, I need to consider percentages of cocoa present. The higher amount of cocoa; the better for you. Unlike my devout loyalty to specific cold cereals, ketchup and mayonnaise brands, I haven’t developed a one-brand must- have chocolate. I can take risks now and then.
So I bought a bunch at different percentages and did some taste testing. Forget anything above 70%. They’re dry, bitter, acidic and non-chocolaty. 60-65% is tolerable. Milk chocolate—way down in cocoa percentage- is still yummy. White chocolate isn’t really chocolate; it’s been refined so much there’s no cocoa left. But it does make a superb mousse with raspberries.
I sent my husband shopping recently with a short list that included baking chocolate, figuring he’d return with the Baker’s unsweetened. Instead, he found dark baking chocolate made by Ghirardelli. I used it in brownies; fudgy and divine.
What’s your favorite chocolate? How high will you for in percentages of cocoa?