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healthy chocolate
September 29, 2005
8:37 pm
splodge2001
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just wondered if anyone knew what the healthiest chocolate on the market was. I’m interested in knowing which have the highest levels of flavanoids. I’m eating a lot of domori at the moment and especcially love the madagascar bar. im semi assuming that domori is also one of the healthiest chocolate makers as they dont over process. as i understand it minimal processing equals loads of antioxidants. I also heard that dutching is bad but am not sure if good chocolate makers do this. have been chucking domori cocoa powder into porridge as i assumed that it would be the most untainted way of getting the health benefits. does anyone have any info on the subject?

by the way i must point out that im eat chocolate mainly for pleasure!

September 29, 2005
9:15 pm
Sebastian
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That’s one of my favorite bars too. However, I wouldn’t assume that they’re the healthiest kid on the block. Polyphenol content has jsut as much to do with genetics, growing regions/conditions, and fermentation practices as it does post harvest processing. Which is highest? Can’t say – they’ve not all been tested. It’s a safe bet that Mars products, generally speaking, and especially anything witha CocoaVia seal on it, will be very high as they’ve done by far the most research and have by far the most patents related to this (something like 68 patent families), which doesn’t leave much room for anyone else to play. gram for gram, natural cocoa powders are likely to have the most bang for your buck, however.

September 30, 2005
12:51 am
Hans-Peter Rot
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Cocoa powder is basically the most concentrated version of chocolate because most of the cocoa butter has been extracted. Therefore, most of chocolate’s health benefits lie in cocoa powder, so in essence, cocoa powder is healthier than actual chocolate. Natural cocoa powder is fairly acidic, with a pH of 5, which resultantly produces an astringent and bitter taste on the tongue. To remove this, the cocoa is alkalized, or Dutched, but during this process, much of the flavor is removed and quite often, a metallic flavor is imparted onto the cocoa as well. Dutched cocoa is darker in color and milder in flavor; usually, the darker the color, the milder the flavor. Stick with natural.

Also, baking applications should be noted as well. In recipes calling for cocoa powder, it must be made known the type of cocoa that is required because the alkaline will affect leavening and flavor of the finished baked good. The acidity in natural cocoa will produce the required leavening, but if you use Dutched without adding a chemical leavener (baking soda), then your baked good will not rise. Never substitute one for the other, and if you do, make sure you account for the chemical leavener.

I hope you’ve noticed how much more acidic Domori’s chocolate is, esepcially the Madagascar varieties. Tart, tart, tart. It would be interesting to try a Domori Javanese chocolate, which would probably be overkill.

September 30, 2005
8:41 am
splodge2001
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I love the acidity of domori chocolate. i find it tangy rather than tart. incidently is there any way of knowing which chocolates are made using the dutching process and which are not?

September 30, 2005
11:33 am
Sebastian
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If they’re dutched it’ll say so on the ingredienet label: either Chocolate Liquor (processed with alkali) (some places will list the alkali, most don’t), or Chocolate liquor (Dutch Processed or a variant thereof).

September 30, 2005
1:07 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Unfortunately european labels are not so strict, especially anything from obscure small companies. Taste more, once you’ve tryed dutched chocolate, you will “never forget it” and recognize its presence even in a mix. ;-)

September 30, 2005
3:51 pm
Sebastian
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Actually anyone in the EU has to label their products if alkalized as such (we’ve got 6 production facilities in Europe, mostly in the EU). Some very, very small places may not be doing it, but it’s pretty readily apparent if they are (color is darker, flavor is significantly different, and the sodium and/or potassium levels on their nutritional labels are significantly higher). Because it’s so easily detectable, if someone’s not labelling it, it’ll be brought to the attention of the authorities rather quickly by their competitors and changed 8-)

Just read your profile ellie – kak vbi pazhevaietsa? (transliteration from cyrillic to roman’s a bugger!) I’ve been trying to talk my wife into going to Moscow and then over to Baikal for *years* now..she’ll have none of it. I keep trying tho..

September 30, 2005
5:17 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
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The flavor of Dutched cocoa is indeed unmistakable, and like ellie said, once you tasted it, you’ll immiediately recognize it in the future. With most high end chocolate manufacturers, though, chances are better that they will not be using Dutched. Venchi, otoh, I suspect Dutches, but read my review for an in-depth description. The ingredients list doesn’t claim that they Dutch, but the metallic flavor and distinct Dutched flavor are way too prominent to suggest otherwise.

Also, some companies will add cocoa powder to their bars, and sometimes this can be slightly tricky to detect flavor-wise. Dolfin, for example, adds cocoa powder to their 70%, and it’s near pitch black but doesn’t impact flavor as an individual component that you can pick apart. Usually, it adds boldness and effects texture, because cocoa powder is a very dry substance and clings onto moisture. It would be interesting to store one of these bars long-term to see if they become more brittle or crumbly (like a firm ganache) than other bars that do not contain additional cocoa powder.

September 30, 2005
6:20 pm
Sebastian
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Cocoa powder doesn’t really impact textural changes in bars over time, if the bars are solid moulded pieces (that is, no moisture containing inclusions, such as nougat or caramel). Textural changes over time are a function of the type of cocoa butter, the amount of ccb, and the storage conditions itself. There’s not sufficient surface area in a moulded, solid bar to allow for sufficient moisture pickup to drive textural changes in a very dark, non milk containing bar. Now, if you’re storing it at 95% relative humidity, that’s another case, but no one does that..

Given a 70% bar (all liquor/butter) and a 66% bar + 4% cocoa powder (ttl 70%), assuming identitical tempering and storage conditions, their texture will be similiar to one another over a years period. They will both become very, very hard and brittle (again, assuming good storage conditions). If you melt and retemper them, they’ll revert to a texture that’s very, very similiar to the day they were originally made.

September 30, 2005
11:47 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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10

Monte, i went “yes! yes!” aloud. In fact, the first co to spring into mind when dutched chocolate is mentioned, is for me Venchi. They do not admit it in labeling, as i recall [:(!]. So as a host of tiny italian producers you’d come across @ fairs, they just must be using dutched coveture, may be even from Venchi.
Sebastian, go, it’s fun and absolutely safe. Moscow is economically booming. Tell u more if you wish, sent me e-mail. Baikal is rather far though, and a boring smelly long flight, + some other unsertain means of transport.

October 1, 2005
4:16 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Yeah, Venchi’s 85% is far from what I would consider a suitable eating chocolate, while the 75% approaches a more acceptable level but still not that great overall. However, if you have the opportunity, try the 75% ganache filled chocolates, Cubotti Cuor di Cacao 75%. They are wrapped in gold and black foil and despite it being Venchi dark chocolate, the cream cuts back on the harshness and the end result is a very satisfyingly dark treat. Although they have that Dutched flavor, it’s not a bad product in the end. And while we’re on the topic, might I add that practically anything with gianduja in it from Venchi is good.