Are you trying to eat more dark chocolate, but are having a hard time because it’s so bitter? Well, you’re not alone.
Dark chocolate has been said to be healthier than other types of chocolate due to its higher cocoa content and less sugar content, but not everyone can handle the bitterness that comes with dark chocolate.
Why is dark chocolate so bitter? And how can you eat dark chocolate without added sugar? Read more in the article below.
Why Is Dark Chocolate So Bitter?
Compared to other types of chocolate, dark chocolate is the most bitter of them all. This is because dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids than others. Cocoa solids, also known as cocoa mass, are what give chocolate its characteristic flavor. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids in a chocolate product, the more intense the flavor will be.
Then, what makes cocoa solids bitter? The answer is the alkaloids and polyphenols in cocoa beans. These chemical compounds are generally bitter in taste and are believed to be beneficial for health. Different varieties of cocoa beans naturally contain different amounts of the compounds, which makes some chocolate naturally more bitter than others.
Another factor that affects the bitterness of the chocolate is its manufacturing process. Cocoa beans undergo a long process that develops the chocolate flavor and texture, as well as removes unwanted flavor. Different manufacturers use different processes and methods to create their own flavor, and not all are as high in quality. In order to create standardized flavor using low-grade cocoa beans, some mass-produced chocolate manufacturers even overroast the cocoa beans, which could lead to chocolate with an unpleasant bitter taste.
5 Ideas to Consume Dark Chocolate Without Added Sugar
Here are 5 ways to get your taste buds acquainted with the bitterness of dark chocolate, without adding sugar or any sweetener:
1. Slowly transition to dark chocolate
If you are used to eating white and milk chocolate, there is no need to rush into eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage.
The average milk contains as little as 25 percent cocoa. Start with dark chocolate with less than 50 percent cacao content, and find a level of bitterness that you can tolerate.
Eat a little bit of the said dark chocolate for a few weeks to get your taste buds adjusted to the flavor. Then, select dark chocolate that has a 10 percent higher cocoa content than before. Repeat this process until you can enjoy dark chocolate with a higher cocoa percentage.
2. Reduce sugar intake
One of the reasons you might think that dark chocolate is too bitter is because you have been eating foods with high sugar content. Your sweetness flavor receptor may have been desensitized, therefore you perceive bitter flavors to taste more bitter than they really are.
By cutting down your sugar intake, you will start to get re-sensitized to the flavor of sweet foods. When this happens, sweet flavors will taste sweeter and bitter flavors may not taste as bitter.
3. Choose higher-quality chocolate
Not all chocolates are created equal. The variety of cocoa beans used, how they’re grown, the quality of the added ingredients, and the process that goes through making the chocolate affect the flavor greatly.
Although they contain the same cocoa percentage, chocolate made with expertise and high-quality ingredients will taste different from low-quality, mass-produced chocolate.
4. Pair with other foods
Another way to consume chocolate without added sugar is by pairing the chocolate with other foods. Eating dark chocolate by itself may taste too intense for some people, so it’s a good idea to pair it with other ingredients.
You can opt for dark chocolate with toppings and inclusions like nuts, berries or sea salt instead of a plain dark chocolate bar. Or, you can pair your plain bar with fresh fruits, cheese or wine. This will result in a wonderful combination that not only eases the bitterness of chocolate, but also adds another dimension of flavor and texture to your dark chocolate.
5. Try single-origin chocolate
As we have mentioned before, the bitterness in chocolate is affected by the concentration of chemical compounds naturally present in cocoa beans. There are cocoa bean varieties from different regions of the world that, instead of bitter, can taste fruity, nutty, or even floral. By using a certain variety of cocoa beans from one specific region, manufacturers can produce a chocolate bar with a prominently unique flavor. This is what is called single-origin chocolate.
The flavor profiles of the chocolate can usually be found on the packaging. Give single-origin chocolate a try, and you will be surprised how a dark chocolate bar with high cocoa percentage can taste nothing like standard dark chocolate.