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Why Is Dark Chocolate Bitter and How to Make it Less Bitter?

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While bitterness is something that people look for in dark chocolate, some others may not be totally in love with it. You might wonder, why is dark chocolate bitter in the first place? And how can you make it less bitter? Read on to find out.

What Is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate that contains 50 to 90 percent of cocoa solids, which include cocoa mass and cocoa butter. Unlike milk chocolate and white chocolate, dark chocolate does not contain milk ingredients. Typically, its ingredients are cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar. Lower quality chocolate may have cocoa powder, vegetable oils, and added flavor or aroma.

Because of its lack of added milk ingredients, dark chocolate is darker brown in color. While white chocolate tastes sweet and creamy, and milk chocolate tastes sweet and milky, dark chocolate tastes more bitter and chocolaty.

Why Is Dark Chocolate Bitter?

What Is Dark Chocolate

1. Cocoa percentage

In the process of making chocolate, you have two main components made from cacao beans: cocoa mass and cocoa butter. While cocoa butter gives chocolate its smooth texture and buttery mouthfeel, it doesn’t contribute to the flavor. The cocoa mass, however, is what gives chocolate its flavor and color, as well as the bitter components in chocolate.

When you go to the chocolate aisle in a supermarket or confectionery shop, you might notice that a lot of chocolate bars mention a certain percentage. This might be anywhere from 30 percent to 100 percent. This is called the cocoa percentage.

The cocoa percentage shows the amount of cocoa mass and cocoa butter out of the total ingredients in the chocolate. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the percentage, the more cocoa mass, and cocoa butter are used, and the more bitter the chocolate tastes.

Dark chocolate typically has a high cocoa percentage. This is because it does not have a lot of added ingredients like milk and sugar. Our Embassy Continental Blend Dark Chocolate Couverture 75%, for example, contains about 30% cocoa mass and 45% fat content. Compared to our Embassy Equatorial Dark Chocolate Couverture 56%, the Continental 75%, which has a higher cocoa percentage, has a more opulent and full-bodied dark chocolate taste and a more bitter sensation.

2. Type of cocoa bean used

Not all cocoa beans are created the same. There are different types of cocoa beans that grow in different parts of the world, and some are naturally more bitter than others. The taste of bitterness itself depends on several chemical components in chocolate, such as alkaloids and polyphenols. These bitter components, however, are also some of the beneficial components such as antioxidants.

3. Chocolate-making process

Chocolate-making is a complicated process. In chocolate-making, fermentation and roasting are the important first steps. The early formation of flavors, aroma and color happens here. If a piece of chocolate tastes too bitter, it might be because the cacao beans used weren’t fermented long enough, or it may not be roasted properly.

7 Tips to Make Dark Chocolate Taste Less Bitter

Tips to Make Dark Chocolate Taste Less Bitter

As a general rule, you can make dark chocolate taste less bitter by adding ingredients that can counteract the bitterness. Another way is to pair it with complementary flavors. Here are some ways you can make your dark chocolate taste less bitter.

1. Add sugar

This might be a no-brainer, but it sure is the easiest way to make dark chocolate taste less bitter. For starters, you can add a couple tablespoons of sugar to every 50 grams of chocolate, and adjust it to your taste. Melt the dark chocolate on low heat and stir constantly while you add the sugar in slowly.

2. Add sea salt

Salt can help diffuse the aroma and taste of chocolate, and it also adds a whole new flavor to your chocolate. If you added sugar to your chocolate and add some salt on top of it, you will have an even better flavor. You can add salt to the melted chocolate mixture, or sprinkle it on top to get a lovely sensation.

3. Add chili peppers

While this might sound like an odd combination, the heat from chili pepper can give your dark chocolate more flavor and make it less bitter as well.

4. Add some fruits

Fruits, especially sweet ones, work great to counter the bitterness in dark chocolate. Bananas, passionfruit, cherries and strawberries are some fruits you can’t go wrong with.

5. Pair it with wine

Another option to make dark chocolate taste less bitter is by pairing it with wine. We recommend pairing dark chocolate with a full-bodied red wine rather than white wine. While white wines can be too sweet or too drying, red wines cut through flavors and are known for being a good palate cleanser.

6. Pair it with cheese

Combine savory and creamy cheese with bitter dark chocolate, and you’ll get a downright pleasant experience. The cheese mutes the bitterness and adds a unique flavor. Some great cheeses to pair with chocolate are Comté, Parmigiano Reggiano, and aged Gouda.

7. Quality matters

There are different types of chocolate out there, and as we have learned, not all are created equal. Premium couverture chocolate contains ingredients of better quality with better flavor and mouthfeel. This is something that you won’t get from compound chocolate, which tends to taste duller and have a waxy mouthfeel.

For high-quality couverture chocolate, choose Embassy Chocolate. Our chocolates are blended and processed skillfully to create chocolate with a balanced, refined taste. For more information about our products, visit this page.

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