May 03, 2018
Chocolate is not just another delicacy, It is a feeling, an expression and an entity in itself! Chocolate has evolved to become an important part of many cultures across the globe and is now on its path to create its space in industries beyond food! Much has been researched, said and done about chocolate and its various types, and dark chocolate has become a buzzword not only in the food and gourmet industry but also in the health and nutrition space. Let’s take a quick look at what is dark chocolate exactly and what makes it the global favourite over its other counterparts.
Chocolate is a product derived from the Theobroma* Cocoa tree, its fruits and seeds. Cocoa beans, which form the base for all chocolates, are nothing but the fermented and dried form of seeds found inside the fruit of this tree.
Cocoa beans or nibs yield two main components: chocolate liquor and Cocoa butter. Chocolate liquor is cocoa nibs ground to a liquid form - it contains both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter, also called Theobroma oil is a pale yellow vegetable fat that is extracted from the Cocoa beans. It has a mild chocolate flavour and aroma, but contains no cocoa solids.
The difference between the various kinds of chocolate arises mainly from the difference in the proportion of these three ingredients: Chocolate liquor, Cocoa butter and milk solids.
• Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is chocolate in its purest form that contains the highest amount of chocolate liquor with very little or no milk solids. The texture of the dark chocolate is mostly brittle and less creamy as opposed to milk and white chocolate.
• Milk chocolate: Milk chocolates have a higher content of milk solids mixed with Chocolate liquor, thereby giving it a creamier texture and light brown colour. It is the most common form of chocolate available.
• White Chocolate: White Chocolate is made from Cocoa butter, which is nothing but the vegetable fat of the cocoa fruit. It does not contain any cocoa solids.
This is only the basic distinction between the various kinds of chocolates. Within each category, we have a plethora of variations based on the exact quantity of the ingredients, sweeteners and other ingredients.
An extensive amount of recent research has been carried out to study Cocoa, its health benefits and the consumer gist of it is that most of the advantages can be tied to consuming chocolates with a higher content of flavonoids. Cocoa contains Flavonoids (also found in apples, green tea, and most fruits and vegetables) which act as antioxidants and are known to improve blood pressure and circulation, decrease cholesterol, improve skin health, boost mood and cognitive performance. While darker chocolates contain more Cocoa and hence more flavonols. The exact content of flavanols also depends on the bean’s journey from inside the fruit to become a bar of chocolate. Hence, when it comes to chocolates, moderation was, is, and will always be the best approach forward.
*Theobroma is the scientific name of a group of plants, of which Cocoa tree is a part. It is a Latin word which means “Food of the Gods”.