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seventypercent or: what's in a name
November 3, 2004
10:32 am
alex_h
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i read somewhere that 70% is the ideal ratio between sugar and cocoa in a good chocolate. can anyone tell me why that is?

November 3, 2004
1:02 pm
Sebastian
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Probably because whoever wrote it happened to find a 70% bar that he/she thought was perfection, and for that person, it was the perfect blend. What is the perfect blend? Well, it's whatever you happen to like the best. Flavors are percieved differently by different people, and what's right for you may not be right for someone else. Which is better, a blue car or a red car? There's no *right* answer. Plus, throw in the complexities of origin, handling differences, processing differences = very different results. I've had 70% pieces that I thought were great, and others that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I've got the same take on wine - I drink those that I like, I've tried the whole 'listen to experts and drink it because they say it's good' and found that many times, I completely disagree with them. They may know a boatload about wine, but no matter how much they know, they can't tell me what I like.

November 3, 2004
3:09 pm
alex_h
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true, true. i just thought there might be organoleptic (to use a big word) reasons for a 70/30 ratio.

November 3, 2004
8:14 pm
Martin Christy
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Ah, I'm very interested in this and been meaning to start a thread. I've a theory (without much science behind it) that there is what I will call a 'sugar point', where the proportion of cocoa solids changes the way the sugar in chocolate behaves. My only evidence is the feeling on your teeth after you eat something very sweet - where the sugar seems to stick and of course all the bad effects of sugar begin.

Now at around 62% cocoa solids and above (of course allowing for variations with each bean or blend) this effect stops, and a clean chocolatey sensation is left instead. Somehow above this point the positive effects of chocolate on your teeth - or maybe just the lower proportion of sugar - take over.

Try a 50% dark and see what I mean.

Like I say, no basis for this other than observation - anyone agree?

Martin Christy
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Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
November 3, 2004
9:14 pm
Sebastian
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Scientifically speaking, the composition of the cocoa butter's going to have a much greater effect on organoleptics (never thought I'd be able to use this word in a non-work situation w/o getting crazy looks..). Cocoa butter isn't cocoa butter the world around, as the building blocks that comprise cocoa butter are found in different ratios depending on origin and growing conditions. The differences can be quite noticeable. I've done fairly thorough studies on sugar profiles in the mouth, and while at very high concentrations you can form essentially a syrup on the mouth that changes salivary viscosity noticeably, sugar's really quite soluable and doesn't contribute greatly to a noticeably different mouthfeel, at least when we're talking about the amounts consumed in typical bite sized portions of our favorite product.

That being said, of course the human body is an amazingly complex piece of machinery, and martin may well be much more sensitive to these things than the average bear. There are 'supertasters' out there who are incredibly sensitive to particular flavor notes. There's no reason to believe that this couldn't be another iteration of that.

November 4, 2004
11:50 am
Martin Christy
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Would it not be that above a certain concentration of sugar, dental plaque formation rises - whereas with a higher cocoa content either the ratio itself inhibits this effect, or the antibacterial properties of the cocoa come into play? (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/hea.....892591.stm)

Martin Christy
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Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
November 4, 2004
12:47 pm
alex_h
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martin, you've mentioned your sugar point theory somewhere before. but i haven't noticed any similar effect.
what i have noticed though is that some 70% chocolate feels like it is attacking my teeth.
i have also noticed that domori chocolate causes a strange "sticky" feel on my teeth. especially the puro and 100%! it feels almost as if it could pull out my fillings. caused me to wonder about the properties of domori chocolate.

November 4, 2004
12:51 pm
Sebastian
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Chocolate is probably better characterized as cariostatic as opposed to noncariogenic. Strep mutans loves to feed on simple sugars, which chocolate has plenty of (even darks). That particular article you reference points to compounds found in the shell, which were combined with the cocoa solids proper. By law, there's a pretty low maximum shell content that you can have in your chocolate, and most mfrs do everything in their power to get as much out as they can, as it's extremely abrasive and tends to realy tear up your equipment. Plus, it simply doesn't taste that good or have nice mouthfeel - it's roughly 60% insoluable fiber. There are other components that occur naturally in the meat of the nib that are cariostatic in nature as well. However, if those components were removed, plaque formation isn't something that is readily apparent as soon as you consume the product - while the process certainly begins very quickly, it takes some time for it to build up to 'feelable' amounts, and by the time that's happened, you've long swallowed the chocolate you were consuming and moved on to other things. I'd certainly agree with you that the higher the cocoa solids content is, the stronger the effect tho.

November 4, 2004
2:06 pm
alex_h
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btw, sebastian, what kind of chocolate do you make and what do you know about the genetics involved (recovery, cloning, hybridization, etc.)?

November 4, 2004
2:46 pm
Sebastian
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I work for a pretty large chocolate manufacturer (if you'd like, i can give you the name privately - i tend to avoid posting publicly to avoid the impression of commercialism - I'm really here just because I love chocolate and like to share). As far as genetics goes, my educational background is in genetics, and I worked for Pioneer Hybrid Int'l for some time in their genetic trait and technology lab. I've got a pretty decent handle on genetics, but am not pursuing genetic studies in cacao at this time, nor do i have any plans to. I know there was some recombinat work being done at two universities in particular as well as at a governmental arm of the USDA. I'm really very cautious when it comes to those types of works - not to get on a soapbox, but while I do feel that area holds a great deal of promise, I also feel it holds a great deal of danger, and having worked in the area in quite specialized fields, am not convinced that industry regulations nor practice are sufficient to properly safeguard against them. On the other hand, the differences between cacao varieties isn't nearly as large as they were 30 years ago - we're seeing a significant convergence of phenotypical traits simply due to less technically advanced hybridization techniques. In the pursuit of the superproducing trees that are pumping out pods at levels orders of magnitude higher than the average tree, and trying to make them more disease resistant or insect resistant - many subtleties and not so subtle flavor/color traits have simply been bred out. Of course, there are still plenty of exceptions to that, as you're all undoubtedly well aware, but the playing field certainly is a lot smaller than it was a couple of decades ago.

November 4, 2004
3:09 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
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Also, the build up of plaque on the teeth is caused by sugars, which is essentially what carbohydrates are comprised of. When food settles on the teeth, it deteriorates and is even digested in the mouth. It's basically being digested in your mouth, but because the acidity level of your mouth is nowhere near the level as that of your stomach the sugars have a chance to attack your teeth. That's why it's recommended to brush your teeth after every meal, and also why floss was invented.

November 4, 2004
3:13 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
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Alex, by all no means, I'm no expert in this field, but to propose a theory regarding the sticky feeling of Domori's unsweetened chocolate: Perhaps the shorter conching time, which combined with the lack of lechitin, produces a pastier mouthfeel, similar to peanut butter. When I eat Domori, mainly the chocolate without lechitin, it's extremely pasty in my mouth, but I absolutely love it.

November 4, 2004
3:33 pm
Sebastian
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I've never looked at that particular chocolate, but it may also be that the particle sizes are extremely small. It's generally accepted that particles < 18 um or so aren't perceptible by the human palate. If you go finer than that, the particles' surface area increases tremendously, and one result is that there's not a clean 'wash away' effect when consumed. The effect is often compared to that of putting a spoonful of pnut butter in your mouth, actually..

November 4, 2004
3:35 pm
Martin Christy
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Sebastian, just to be clear I meant there was less 'sugar' effect with higher cocoa solids. With lower percentages, you're eating more sucrose that makes up the difference, which I guess would have a worse effect. Although the article refers to the husk, I've seen others that talk about the rest of the bean. Interesting point discussed here about cocoa butter coating the teeth, which might explain my point: http://www.exploratorium.edu/e.....hoc_7.html

Re. Domori, I think this is about processing techniques and not sugar content. They only conch for 12 hours and try to use what they call 'low impact' methods to produce chocolate.

Drop me an email if you have a chance.

Martin Christy
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November 4, 2004
4:26 pm
Sebastian
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I don't have it handy at the moment, but I'll see if I can't dig out my references that identify those cariostatic pieces of the nib. Interestingly, did you know that there at are least 20 different sugars that naturally occur in pure chocolate? Ok, perhaps not *that* interesting, but... ;-)

November 4, 2004
4:35 pm
Martin Christy
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No, tell us - we want to know! :)

Martin Christy
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November 4, 2004
5:03 pm
Sebastian
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You asked for it 8-)
Arabinose
Cellulose
D-galactose
Fructose
Glucose
Mannan - hemicelluloses of glucose and mannose
Manninotriose
Mannose
Melibiose
Mesoinositol
Pentose
Planteose
Raffinose (beta-D-Fructofuranosyl-O-alpha-D-galactopyranosyl-(1->6)-alpha-D-glucopyranoside (aka gossypose, melitose, melitriose)
Rhamnose (6-Deoxyl-L-mannose) aka L-rhamnose, L-mannomethylose, isodulcit
Saccharose
Stachyose
Sucrose
Verbacosetetrose
Verbascose (a fructofuranosyl galactopyranosyl with many enantiomers)
Xylose

November 11, 2004
2:46 pm
alex_h
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i've just found the following information on domori's site:

"Chocolate causes moderate caries, and this is probably related to the cocoa fraction of chocolate, which contains chemicals inhibitory to oral bacteria."

November 11, 2004
5:30 pm
Sebastian
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That's a bit confusing..causes moderate carries and inhibits bacteria are a bit at odds with one another 8-) there's a number of japenese studies that have been done that would suggest that chocolate doesn't cause carries - i'll see if i can't dig them out next week and post for y'all.

November 11, 2004
6:03 pm
alex_h
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yeah, it is confusing. maybe it's a language problem and domori wants to say that chocolate "moderates" or inhibits caries. i dunno. but i just read about that japanese study in a german magazine that is known for the correctness of its claims. they say (as i think you did above) that something in the cocoa pod's shell (or somesuch) inhibits caries.

so you figure i can be at ease consuming my 25g of 70-75% daily?

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