3 Jan 2014: The Forum is currently in read-only made while we update to a new version of the Seventy% website and forum.

The forum will be back with a faster, simplified and up to date website in the next two months.

Please consider registering
guest

Log In

Lost password?
Advanced Search:

— Forum Scope —



— Match —



— Forum Options —




Wildcard usage:
*  matches any number of characters    %  matches exactly one character

Minimum search word length is 4 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters

The forums are currently locked and only available for read only access
Topic RSS
looking for unbridled dark chocolate, please help
January 16, 2008
3:30 pm
joshroe
bridgeport, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
January 16, 2008
Offline

Hello, I’m pretty new to good chocolate, though I’ve been a fine food and dessert lover for years. I’ve been eating ScharffenBerger for the last year and i like it fine but I dont like that they were bought out by Hershey. I’m more into small, local, “boutique” type companies (not just in chocolate but in everything) so I’m on here to get some direction from people who seem like they truly know what they are talking about. I would just try them all myself but i am a poor student and just cant afford to taste test everything. I’m looking for the most pure chocolate possible; as few additives and as little sugar as possible. I dont currently have the palate that you people do but i do know what i like. I am only into VERY dark chocolate but not 100%, its just too much. I bought some Michel Cluizel (cru de plantation sampler box, 85%, 70% and 45%) and overall it was nice but not what I’m looking for. The 85% was pretty bland compared the my standby, Lindt 85% (best chocolate I’ve had so far, LOVE the complete power of it) Los Ancones was the best by far and I’ll probably by another bar but I’m still looking for a delicious, super dark, pure and powerful bar. Above 80% preferred but 75 is fine too if its really strong. Why does it seem like most single origin bars are lower percentage? What is the benefit of single origin? Is it inherently better than blended? Any general advice for a newbie would be great. Domori sounds great, Amadei sounds great but where to start? Which company is most dedicated to pureness and uses least additives/sugar? Anyways, hope this makes some sense, all advice appreciated. Josh.

January 16, 2008
10:40 pm
Eshra
Southgate, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 178
Member Since:
February 14, 2006
Offline

Josh,

Welcome to the crazy world of fine, dark chocolate. I respect what you are looking for: very dark chocolate without any nonsense fillers. I am of the school who believes that added cocoa butter can often shade the taste and potency of that wild and savage cocoa flavour that you are seeking. I suggest you possibly look into dealing with chocosphere, as their prices are quite good and they ship throughout the US. Go with Domori. Domori doesn’t add any cocoa butter to most of their bars, and they tend to be on the ‘wild’ side. Strong cocoay notes without the blandness of that horrible Cluizel 85 bar that you cited (God, I hate that bar). You’ll also be introduced into some ‘fermenty’ notes that help convey some of the fruity qualities in good cacao. Indeed, a good bar from Domori reminds me of a nicely aged balsamico.

If you want to try something “out there”, go with Steve DeVries. His Costa Rican bars are like Michel Cluizel’s Maralumi on steroids. Mass citrus and potent cocoa.

That is all for now:))

Sean

January 17, 2008
12:01 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
Member
Forum Posts: 1462
Member Since:
August 1, 2006
Offline

Single origin (SO) bars are often at a lower percentage because they generally require more attention to carefully find the “right” balance between sugar and cacao to bring out the chocolate’s full potential. A baseline percentage of 70% is easy but if you stick to that rule you might miss a valuable opportunity to unlock the chocolate’s properties.

SO chocolates attempt to highlight the inherent characteristics of the cacao and other features, such as varying weather conditions, geography, etc. (collectively referred to as terroir), so as to truly capture what a specific region’s cacao tastes like. This is where percentage comes into play as well, as outlined above.

A blended bar, however, utilizes various types of cacao which at times can include quality that’s not so hot, so a mixing of sorts can hide those irregularities rather well. Also, the intent behind a blended bar is often quite different than SO in that the maker is generally trying to find a balance among all the beans to create a chocolaty chocolate without much flavor variation throughout the profile and throughout the years. This means the resulting bar will be of comparable quality and flavor year after year, which cuts down on time and finances.

Some makers such as Amedei and Scharffen Berger, however, have blended bars of great complexity, which is a trait comparable to the intent behind single origin bars. The only difference here is that origin is not a key issue, although selecting the right origins for a desired flavor and percentage is important but is not the only facet one wishes to highlight.

January 17, 2008
1:48 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
Offline

quote:


Originally posted by joshroe

Hello, I’m pretty new to good chocolate, though I’ve been a fine food and dessert lover for years. I’ve been eating ScharffenBerger for the last year and i like it fine but I dont like that they were bought out by Hershey.


However, you should be aware that, as your first introduction to quality chocolate, the Scharffen Berger style (extremely fruity) may have helped to “set” your concept of what good chocolate “should” taste like, so that you may find at least initially that you don’t like, or don’t think of as good, chocolates that aren’t strongly fruity, with a noticeable upfront sharpness and rather light body. This isn’t a given, but it does indicate a potential bias that you need to be alert to.

quote:


… I’m looking for the most pure chocolate possible; as few additives and as little sugar as possible. I dont currently have the palate that you people do but i do know what i like. I am only into VERY dark chocolate but not 100%, its just too much.


Once again, be aware that this could be the result of limited experience; specifically, if you’ve not tried many (or any) top-notch 100% chocolates you may be under the impression that they will all be aggressively bitter, again something that isn’t necessarily the case. As an extreme example if your only exposure to unsweetened chocolate were through Baker’s brand, you might easily conclude that unsweetened chocolate tastes harsh. And some of the good 100% is fairly bitter too, e.g. Cluizel Noir Infini.

quote:


I bought some Michel Cluizel (cru de plantation sampler box, 85%, 70% and 45%) and overall it was nice but not what I’m looking for. The 85% was pretty bland compared the my standby, Lindt 85% (best chocolate I’ve had so far, LOVE the complete power of it)


Cluizel’s 85% is indeed good but somewhat bland. You’re lucky to have been in the USA where Lindt’s 85% is good; elsewhere, as you’ll find by looking on this site, they use a different formulation which is much worse. Why they use different formulae, especially with the US version being such a clear winner, is a total mystery.

quote:


Why does it seem like most single origin bars are lower percentage?


One important reason is that the quantity of supply is inherently limited. Given that, a chocolatier will want first of all to achieve a bar that is well-received by a general audience, making it possible for the largest number of people to appreciate the quality of the origin, and secondly to make the most of the supply he has on hand – and by adding sugar he is able to “stretch” what he has available.

quote:


What is the benefit of single origin? Is it inherently better than blended?


No. A single origin is, however, usually more characteristic, meaning that its flavour is distinct and instantly identifiable as opposed to generic and homogeneous. There’s also a different philosophy in force with a blend versus a single origin. Generally with a blend, the aim is to achieve a consistently reproducible, neutral chocolate flavour. Cluizel’s 72% is the classic for this. It’s a superb chocolate in every way, one that is the equal of any single origin, but note that it’s flavour is just simply “chocolatey”. Now contrast that with Los Ancones, a single-origin of the same quality as the 72% – which is distinctive, with obvious prune, wood, and olive notes. Neither is inherently *worse*, but the experience is completely different.

quote:


Domori sounds great, Amadei sounds great but where to start? Which company is most dedicated to pureness and uses least additives/sugar?


Amedei: Chuao. Obvious and yes, even at 70% it’s powerful beyond virtually all others.

Domori makes some superb 100%’s: the Style line 100% and the even better Ocumare 61 and Canoabo 100% (the latter 2 unfortunately only available in the expensive Hacienda San Jose box sets). I know what you mentioned about 100% but if you’ve not tried them this will shake up your ideas about 100% – as will the Pralus 100%.

The best ultra-percentage non-100%’s worth trying, I think, are Theo’s Venezuela 91% and Slitti’s Tropicale 90%. It’s notable that both are origin chocolate, although Slitti also makes a very good blend 90% as well. However, at maximal percentages like these your options are few.
As you start to get to the 75% category the possibilities explode, because the entire Pralus and Bonnat varietal lines appear, 3 more Theo chocolates qualify, Scharffen Berger’s limited-editions (see e.g. Antilles) are here, and many others. I would definitely try these, and also be sure to try chocolate from manufacturers with a wide variety of *styles*. For example, Pralus uses a very dark roast, Valrhona is normally fruity and incredibly smooth-textured, Amedei is rich, dark fruity, Domori tends to be spicy and thick but ultra-smooth, and Cluizel emphasizes ultimate balance. There’s of course a lot to try and it will take a while to establish a “database” of preferences but it’s rewarding to keep trying different brands on spread-out occasions rather than getting the same brand over and over again.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
January 17, 2008
4:40 am
joshroe
bridgeport, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
January 16, 2008
Offline

wow! lots of good feedback, just got off work and too tired to type. need my chocolate fix, hahaha. i really appreciate the replies. the only 100% I’ve tried was the Lindt. It didnt seem that *bitter* but I guess since I’m used to chocolate being sweet, it almost didnt seem like chocolate (thats kind of ironic, huh?) i would be willing to try another 100% but i feel i need a HINT of sweetness to bring out the flavor, kind of like salt does for food, you know? I guess the percentages arent so important but maybe they are, not sure. i just dont like eating sugar so i want to be able to enjoy some strong chocolate without getting sugar high and all the other bad health effects of sugar. i tried a local maker here in NY called Vere which isnt gourmet but supposedly very “healthy” and it wasnt bad but wasnt amazing either. I think i will just slowly make my way through the different makers and find one that works for me. Domori *sounds* like what I’m looking for but you can never know til you try it. I’ll be back for a more detailed response. Thanks again, cheers.

January 17, 2008
10:06 am
alex_h
Member
Forum Posts: 1170
Member Since:
April 29, 2004
Offline

yeah, i’d give domori a try. i don’t think you’ll get a purer bar, ie, one with a shorter list of ingredients. i am a big porcelana fan, but this is also their most expensive bar and only gives you 25g. the new madagared is the same pricewise, but you’ll get something much fruitier, it being madagascan.
if the price shocks you, go for the cru range. these bars are much less expensive than the two mentioned above, but just as pure, ingrediently speaking. here my faves are the rio caribe and the carenero. if you like fruity, an obvious choice will be sambirano, again a madagascan. the cru range comes in two percentages, 70 and 100. and here i have had some good 100%, particularly the rio caribe (on one occasion even very excellent) and the sur del lago.
the domori hacienda san jose boxes alex mentions no longer include 100% in the new series. so if you want to shell out the bucks and get something that won’t be around too much longer…

another favorite of mine (and here you’re pretty much reaching for the most expensive bar there is) is amedei’s porcelana. their list of ingredients is pretty short too, but they make a bar that is very different from what domori makes.

that said, most artisan chocolate bar makers tend to try and keep the ingredients that go into the finished product down to a minimum, often even leaving out lecithin, vanilla or even cocoa butter.

January 17, 2008
4:20 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
Member
Forum Posts: 1462
Member Since:
August 1, 2006
Offline

As far as sugar goes, how much chocolate are you eating to be concerned with your sugar intake? 40g of a ~70% chocolate will only cost you 9g (a little more than two teaspoons) of sugar, so unless you’re consuming a 100g bar or so a day, I wouldn’t be too worried. Or, of course, you could have other health issues, but if that were the case you presumably would not be here anyway!

Besides, by the time you get to the point to be concerned with sugar you should be worrying about other things, such as fat content and the excess energy levels THAT produces. Sugar in chocolate, or at least the darker bars, is relative.

Btw, Vere is not a “maker” per se but rather a chocolatier of sorts in that they make products from couverture that is not their own. Does anyone if they’re still using Vintage Plantations? A maker would designate someone who produces chocolate from raw cacao beans, i.e. a chocolate maker.

January 17, 2008
11:23 pm
cioccolato
USA
Member
Forum Posts: 15
Member Since:
February 25, 2007
Offline

Good luck on your search for the ultimate chocolate. Exploring many of the various chocolates out there will help you find the ones you like. A good place to look for some fine imported chocolate is Cioccolato at http://www.iluvchocolate.com. I suggest you consider Chocolat Bonnat for France, Maglio from Italy or Askinosie for the USA. I think you find all fall in the area of good chocolate.[:)]

January 18, 2008
6:30 am
joshroe
bridgeport, USA
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
January 16, 2008
Offline

you know, you’re right. that really isnt very much sugar. i guess its mostly a taste thing. i felt that the cru bars from cluizel were too sweet for my taste (at least too sweet to eat very much at one time) They were great bars and the texture was the best Ive ever experienced, so I am not complaining but i am drawn to stronger, more intense chocolate. i guess i kind of enjoy a little bit of bitterness, i dunno. i guess i will just have to try different bars until i find one that satisfies! thanks for the reply.

January 18, 2008
1:17 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 308
Member Since:
March 17, 2005
Offline
10

Let us know how it’s going,I on the similar quest. Looks like anything around 90% presents a problem for the chocolate maker, and i also feel that just adding cocoa butter to bust the percentage isn’t a real solution. To start with pure cacao mass and just keep adding different amounts of sugar looks as a much more logical way; although, of course in reality it all depends on technology and actual machinery. Adding cocoa butter makes the mass flow better, easier to handle and less wear, would be my guess.

January 19, 2008
12:43 am
Alex Rast
Manchester, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 283
Member Since:
October 13, 2009
Offline
11

quote:


Originally posted by ellie

Let us know how it’s going,I on the similar quest. Looks like anything around 90% presents a problem for the chocolate maker, and i also feel that just adding cocoa butter to bust the percentage isn’t a real solution. To start with pure cacao mass and just keep adding different amounts of sugar looks as a much more logical way; although, of course in reality it all depends on technology and actual machinery. Adding cocoa butter makes the mass flow better, easier to handle and less wear, would be my guess.


It’s slightly more complicated than that, because as you add sugar, the total proportion of cocoa butter declines, and there is a critical point (below about 35%) where the chocolate becomes noticeably drier and coarser in mouthfeel. Pure unsweetened chocolate starts out with somewhere in the vicinity of 50% cocoa butter. If we’re optimistic and use a fattier bean at about 55% cocoa butter it implies an absolute lower limit of 63% cocoa solids to any bar done simply by adding more sugar, and in fact 40% cocoa butter in the finished bar is more commonplace anyway, requiring 72% cocoa solids. If the chocolate starts out with 50% cocoa butter, then the lower limit is 70%. These figures, btw, shed some light on why 70% is sort of a “magic number” for chocolate percentage – it’s at about that point that it becomes possible to deliver chocolate that’s a reasonable approximation to pure liquor blended with sugar – and thus the most undiluted flavour possible at the percentage listed.

Thus in many cases chocolate manufacturers have to add cocoa butter in order to achieve acceptable mouthfeel, and this is an inevitable fate when the percentages drop into the low 60s and under – which is why such bars always taste rather muted and sweet, not to mention often having poorer texture (because to keep the flavour as strong as possible, not to mention keep the price reasonable, the manufacturer tries to be as stingy as possible with the added cocoa butter)

Ultrapercentage chocolates present a different problem: there’s little or nothing to hide the flavour of the bean, so if it’s got any bitterness or flatness, or any other defect, that’s going to come through right away. Furthermore such percentages magnify the effect of process decisions, so even slightly off choices in roast and conch can make the chocolate far more unpalatable than it would have been at a lower percentage. Companies like Domori or Theo that succeed are to be commended for a signal effort and usually for an obsession with process that pays off.

Alex Rast
Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com

Alex Rast Alex_Rast_Alternate@hushmail.com
January 31, 2008
12:07 am
choconeill
Ireland
Member
Forum Posts: 11
Member Since:
June 17, 2006
Offline
12

Pure ~ No Artificial Additives or Preservatives

January 31, 2008
9:45 am
Polarbear
Tromsø, Norway
Member
Forum Posts: 299
Member Since:
April 24, 2004
Offline
13

Try the Rapunzel 85% and Green&Blacks 85% – bot very good, with much less bityterness than expected from a high% choc. G&B is quite fruity, Rapunzel is more spicy.

***
My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic…

*** My name is Polarbear and I am a chocoholic...