What is Dark Chocolate?
All chocolate originates from the seeds harvested from the cacao plant. A variation in the ingredients and cocoa solids leads to several different variations of chocolate. Dark chocolate is one type of chocolate that has a very distinct taste and flavor. It is known for being somewhat more bitter and less sweet than its counterpart milk chocolate with several associated health benefits that have helped to propel its popularity and consumption.
The history of dark chocolate is an interesting one. It was the original chocolate used throughout Mayan and Aztec societies for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. It was not until cacao made its way to Europe that milk and significant amounts of sugar were added. During the 20th century, milk chocolate was the dominant variety on the market. However, in the late 20th century, dark chocolate started to regain popularity as people became more aware of the health benefits associated with eating dark chocolate in moderation.
Dark chocolate contains anywhere from 60% to 99% cocoa solids, which is high considering milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10% to 60% cocoa solids. Dark chocolate does not typically contain any milk (or condensed milk), which is one of the key ingredients in a variety of other chocolates. With that said, it is not uncommon for there to be a small amount of milk found in dark chocolate as there can be cross-contamination within factories where chocolate is produced. The taste of dark chocolate is driven by the amount of cocoa and sugar, meaning the more cocoa there is and the less sugar there is will lead to more bitter chocolate.
The highest quality dark chocolate is said to contain at least 70% of cocoa solids. It is estimated that dark chocolate represents approximately 20% of all chocolate consumed in the United States and 30% of all chocolate consumed in Switzerland.
Dark chocolate is one variety of chocolate that has been around since the origin of chocolate. It continues to gain popularity with its rich flavor and health benefits.
You may also want to read Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.