Cook's Illustrated

INGREDIENT NOTES

Baking with Dark(er) Chocolates

The sales of high-cacao-percentage chocolate bars are surging, getting a notable boost from trendy high-fat, low-sugar diets such as the ketogenic diet—the higher a chocolate bar’s cacao percentage, the less sugar (and more chocolate flavor) it contains. We were curious about how these higher-cacao bars compared to one another, so we selected nationally available bars from three categories—eleven 70 to 73 percent cacao bars, eleven 80 to 88 percent cacao bars, and five 90 to 95 percent cacao bars—and sampled them plain.

The textures of the bars were crucial. Chocolates that were conched (heated and constantly stirred) during processing were smooth, which we liked; one product that wasn’t conched was coarse and gritty. Bars containing extra cocoa butter were also smoother than those without.

We were impressed by flavor complexity and noted some trends. Factors including bean origin as well as fermentation, drying, roasting, and storing procedures contribute flavor nuances. In the bars we sampled, we detected notes of coconut, coffee, pumpkin spice, and raspberry. Our favorites in each category were the smooth, rich, and fruity Chocolove Organic Dark

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