Dark chocolate is like the Sophia Loren of the chocolate world. It’s sophisticated, mature, and still desirable as ever! There is a purity to dark chocolate that tells you this was the way chocolate was meant to be eaten.
What constitutes dark chocolate
There are basic government regulations defining what it takes for a product to be called “dark chocolate”. In the EU (European Union), to be considered dark chocolate – it must contain a minimum of 35% pure cocoa. In the US, it’s defined to be sweet dark chocolate if it contains at least 15% pure cocoa, or bittersweet dark chocolate if it contains a minimum of 35% pure cocoa.
Some may need to ease into it
Dark chocolate is meant to be eaten in small quantities, savored bite by bite, and not inhaled for a sweet fix. If eaten too quickly, the depth of the flavor can be missed. If you wish to enjoy dark chocolate but find the flavor too strong or bitter, we recommend easing yourself into it: start with chocolates that contain lower percentages of cocoa (from 35% to 60% for example) which will help you start to appreciate the flavor and then you can move on to ones that have a higher percentage (75% and above). Once you have surpassed the initial feeling of biterness, you will be able to appreciate the full extent of dark chocolate essence.
More flavor than red wine
Did you know that the flavor varieties found in dark chocolate actually exceed those of red wine?! From a chemical perspective, chocolate is absolutely the most complex compound known to science, with over 1500 identified flavor components (compared to approximately 500 in wine). There are a few reasons for this: first off, there are many varieties of cocoa (such as Forestaro, Trinitario, and Criollo). From there, each variety has sub-species that have their own characteristics creating hundreds of flavor compounds. The growing conditions and the environment (weather, soil, micro flora in the air, etc.) in which the cocoa is being grown also have an impact of the flavors.
Now for the really good news
The absolute best news about all of this is that dark chocolate is actually good for you!! It is a powerful source of antioxidants, improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves brain function. It is recommended to eat no more than 1.6 ounces (approximately 8 squares) of dark chocolate daily to fully benefit from the healthiness of it.
zChocolat’s dark assortments
Taking all these facts into account, zChocolat has created several dark chocolate assortments – joining pleasure and a guilt-free tasting experience.
The dark chocolate assortment
This assortment includes: a vanilla ganache infused with a lavender essence; a smooth caramel mixed with a tangy passion fruit; a deep Caranero Superior bean ganache; a praliné mixed with Valencia almonds from Spain; a solid dark chocolate with Valencia almonds; a smooth raspberry ganache with a hint of violet; a lemon-almond paste; a milk chocolate praliné with coconut from Sri Lanka; a silky ganache blended with coffee from Kenya; a crunchy walnut praliné with phyllo dough; an almond paste infused with rose; a silky ganache with the subtle floral essence of violet as well as a dark Z Chocolate: a combination of a crunchy praliné with sweet and salty caramel.
Above: 12 of the 15 recipes found in our dark chocolate assortment.
The orangettes assortment
Nothing compares to biting into a crisp outer layer Venezuelan and Madagascan blend 70% dark chocolate couverture surrounding a sumptuously tangy strip of fresh candied orange peel. Derived from ripened, Corsican oranges peels are gently simmered in sugar water, then cooled and submerged in melted, premium 70% dark chocolate. The result: an agreeable tartness followed by a sweet rounded finish.
The chocamandines assortment
Extremely addictive, the chocamandine is best served in abundance to satisfy all chocolaty cravings. Our master chocolatier gently roasts Valencia almonds from Spain until their full robust nutty flavor peaks. Then, each almond is drenched in an intense Venezuelan and Madagascan blend 70% dark chocolate and cloaked in Criollo: the most opulent cocoa powder from the Chuao plantation in Venezuela.
The couverture is key
The couverture (outside shell) of a chocolate is the first layer you bite into when eating a chocolate. It is therefore crucial to have a premium quality cocoa bean to leave a lasting first impression. We use only the finest cocoa beans from Venezuela and Madagascar to create our 70% dark chocolate couverture. Read more details on our dark couverture here.
A vintage dark couverture for our Large Z
Now that you are a little better informed about the wonders of dark chocolate, we wish you a happy tasting. Enjoy the maturity of what you are eating, the various new flavors that you now know about, and the fact that you are actually doing something good for your health.