A bar is considered dark chocolate if it is made using cacao mass with or without cane sugar (or substitute sweetener). Dark chocolate bars are usually crafted with a minimum of 50% cacao mass. Dark chocolate bars are often times the best way to experience the flavor nuances of the cacao beans used for their creation, as there are no other ingredients but cacao mass and cane sugar (or substitute sweetener), or sometimes cacao mass alone.
What do the numbers/percentages of chocolate mean?
The cacao content or percentage refers to the amount of pure cacao mass in relation to the other ingredients (often cane sugar, cacao butter and/or milk powder). A cacao bean’s mass contains roughly 50% cacao solid and 50% cacao butter.
When cacao butter is listed as an independent ingredient it means that a percentage of isolated cacao butter (made by pressing cacao beans) has been added to the cacao mass in order to obtain a smoother texture in the finished chocolate bar.
A bar is considered milk chocolate if it contains dairy powder in addition to cacao mass. Milk chocolate carries the subtleties of the cacao beans used in its creation through milk fat (or other types of dairy fat).
Chocolate is a great medium to highlight the qualities of many different types of ingredients. Chocolate makers and confectioners around the world are constantly experimenting with pairing chocolate and other flavors.Salt, for example, is a flavor amplifier, and it is often infused in chocolate bars to enhance certain flavor nuances.
Drinking chocolate differs from hot cocoa in ingredients and preparation. Hot cocoa is made of cacao powder stirred into hot milk or water; drinking chocolate is made by melting bits of solid chocolate and slowly adding hot milk or water.
A dark chocolate bar is considered vegan if it is made with organic cane sugar or made with organic cane sugar and infused with vegan ingredients (nuts, dried fruit, vegetable powders, etc.) A milk or white chocolate bar is vegan if it is made using coconut oil as a substitute for dairy powder.