Semisweet chocolate is made of 35%% chocolate liquor and is slightly sweet. It is most often used in baking. The higher the content of the chocolate liquor, the more rich and flavorful the chocolate will be.
In Europe, dark chocolate is referred to as bittersweet, while in the US, dark chocolate is sometimes referred to as semi-sweet.
Dark Brown chocolate
Selecting and Buying
A bar of fine dark chocolate can start at $2 bucks a bar and head upwards to what the market will bear. Price really depends on a number of factors, including: bean origin, cocoa percentage, production methods, connoisseur conviction, and branding. Fine dark chocolate tends to cost more than a crappy candy bar. You get what you pay for.
2. Bean Origin:
Buying fine dark chocolate is much like choosing a bottle of wine. You can shop by location and by brand. When considering fine chocolate, you can choose beans grown from around the globe. Each location presents unique flavors and notes only possible given the particular climate, soil, and bean variety. Some of the most popular chocolate origins are (in alphabetical order): Caribbean, Ecuador Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome, South America, Trinidad, and Venezuela.
3. Cocoa Percentage:
The cocoa percentage proudly presented on fine bars refers to the total amount of cocoa in the product. This percentage can consist of a mixture of cocoa solids, chocolate liquor, and cocoa butter. The higher the percentage, the more cocoa the bar contains. Common percentages are 65%, 70%, 75%, 80%, and 85%. I once tried a 99% bar only to bust my face on the bitterness. If you’re new to dark delicious chocolate, start at around 65% and then go higher.
The different types of cocoa:
* Cocoa: The dried and partially fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree from which chocolate is made.
* Cocoa Powder (Cocoa Solids): Dry powder produced by grinding the seeds and extracting the Cocoa Butter.
* Cocoa Butter: The pale yellow, pure edible vegetable fat of the cacao bean.
* Chocolate Liquor: A mix of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. This is the stage in processing the cacao beans before the solids and butter are separated.
A word of cocoa caution: Just because a bar contains more cocoa doesn’t mean it’s better or tastier. A high cocoa content is no guarantee for flavor. It’s the quality of the beans and processing methods that have the biggest impact on the final taste.
Depending on the day of week and time of year, the media either tout or decry the health benefits of eating dark chocolate with high-cocoa content. Those that cite the goodness of cocoa believe that epicatechin, an active member of a group of compounds called plant flavonoids, is heart healthy. Apparently, flavonoids can keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.
Those that decry the healthfulness of chocolate say most people confuse the good cocoa rich bars with the bad candy bar crap, and eat the latter in great gusto. The anti-cocoa group also call the research bunk.
5. Chocolate Brands:
There are numerous brands available to dark chocolate fans. Some of the most expensive, and popular include (in alphabetical order): Amedei, Bonnat, Domori, Michel Cluizel, Pralus, Valrhona, and Weiss. I am not against loving Lindt, as the price is right, the origins are varied, and the cocoa percentages are diverse. Plus, fine dark Lindt chocolate can be found at most grocery, drugstores, and Amazon.
Conserving and Storing
Store chocolate in a cool, dry place in its original wrapping or wrapped in foil. Avoid storing chocolate in the refrigerator. Milk and white chocolates will keep this way for about a year. The darker varieties will keep for several years.
Sometimes chocolate will develop white or gray "clouds" or "blooms" on its surface. This just means that the cocoa butter has separated. While it doesn't look pretty, the chocolate is still perfectly fine to use and if you plan on melting it, no one will ever know the difference.