Let's start with the basics: 100% dark chocolate is very special. As its name suggests, it is unsweetened. In some cases it is made from cocoa beans alone, in most cases from a mixture of cocoa beans and a small, added percentage of cocoa butter (the fat from the cocoa bean itself). In both cases one can speak of 100% chocolate because it is made exclusively from cocoa beans - without any other additives. Due to the absence of sugar one can probably not speak of a candy, but according to the definition it is still chocolate.
Why a 100% Chocolate Guide?
So much for the chocolate itself. But why do you need a whole guide? In ourchocolate tastings
, we often found that the participants were very skeptical about 100% dark chocolate. The experiences that most people have had with this chocolate in the past were mainly in the context of common industrial chocolates or with baking chocolate. Accordingly, in the perception of most people, it performs poorly at first. In the meantime, however, there are many great craft or bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers who have taken on the challenge and manage to conjure up extremely exciting, fruity flavors with little bitterness from special cocoa beans and varieties. In contrast to dry, often bitter baking chocolate, they offer a complex, slightly bitter taste and are a real alternative to other chocolates for many. By the way, you can find some of these great chocolates – our personal favorites – here
100% chocolate - more than just baking chocolate
And one more request: even if you're more familiar with 100% chocolate from baking and cooking recipes, try to say goodbye to this thought. Of course we think it's great if you also want to use high-quality chocolate for cooking and baking. However, with 100% dark chocolate in particular, it is exciting to enjoy it individually or in combination with other selected foods. If you supplement chocolate with coffee, wine or even cheese, for example, completely new, great combinations can arise that enhance or perfectly complement the flavors of the other product. So instead of covering up the flavors of 100% chocolate when cooking or baking (which actually makes sense with baking chocolate ;-) ), it's better to concentrate on the pure, original, 100% taste. Sounds great? Still not sure how to integrate 100% dark chocolate into your (culinary) everyday life? No problem! We have put together some tips and suggestions for you. After that, no questions will remain unanswered ... if you do, feel free to ask us. One more note before you read on: this is not a guide totasting chocolate,
but rather a source of inspiration for handling and enjoying 100% dark chocolate.
#1: Quality over quantity
As already mentioned, quality is the be-all and end-all with 100% dark chocolate. In order to get exciting aromas and a nice melt, you should look around in the so-called bean-to-bar or craft chocolate area (an (incomplete ) Check out a list of great bean-to-bar makers
here, check out our favorites here
). Of course, 100% dark chocolate will never be sweet and smooth, but you'll find that you can taste real differences when you try different bars from different craft chocolate producers. And if the price puts you off right away, always remember: with such intense chocolate - and also with craft chocolate with less cocoa content - small pieces are enough for a long-lasting taste. So you will probably enjoy your chocolate for longer. And: the chance that you support an ethical supply chain with your purchase is (almost always) 100%. ;-)
#2: Bean to bean – Black coffee and 100% chocolate
Not only with wine, but also with coffee, the widespread myth persists that these are a fantastic complement to chocolate. This may be true with mainstream chocolates, since they cover up the original taste anyway with a lot of sugar and additives - these can sometimes be combined well with taste-free mainstream coffee. And sometimes that's exactly what you want. But if you are looking for a special taste experience and great quality, then this combination can be a bit more difficult. For example, (slightly) sweetened chocolate tends to make the taste of exciting, acidic coffee even more sour. Conversely, a sweetened coffee can make an unsweetened chocolate much more bitter than it really is. However, if the balance is right, then a whole new, wonderful taste experience opens up. So you have to take a close look and maybe try something before you find the perfect match.
People of the same kind stick together
The motto is: Like attracts like. With unsweetened chocolate, it is advisable to combine it with unsweetened coffee, a fruity 100% chocolate goes great with a fruity coffee, etc. Do you find this combination really exciting? Then we recommend the following procedure: try some 100% chocolates and choose your top 3. Taste it carefully and take notes on the taste profiles or the strongest characteristics: is the chocolate particularly fruity? Particularly dry? Especially nutty? (At the risk of repeating ourselves: You can find tips for tasting here ). With your notes you go to the coffee roaster of your choice - or write to them online - and ask for a suitable type of coffee. Of course, this approach is not easy, but it is fun and when you have found the "perfect match", you will see that the effort was worth it: you will discover new flavors that are never revealed when enjoying the individual products separately had.
#3: In case of an emergency – 100% chocolate for the office
Because the 100% chocolate is made from pure cocoa, it also has the highest possible concentration of theobromine. Theobromine is considered a "mood booster" and helps to provide natural, unsweetened energy boosts. So if you have a sugar or afternoon slump, there is now a tasty and healthy remedy: a small piece of 100% chocolate helps to reactivate your energy level. We can absolutely recommend it.
#4: 100% chocolate for sugar shocks
We all know it and the WHO & DGE likes to (and vehemently) point it out: we humans eat too much sugar
. So if we have a guilty conscience at regular intervals, we don't eat less chocolate, but simply higher-proof ones. The good thing about high-quality chocolate is that it contains relatively little sugar compared to industrial chocolate or candy. Nevertheless, of course, no chocolate can beat 100% - it is the star in the "Free from" contest: no sugar, no sweeteners, no additives. Instead: pure chocolate flavor (for which there really is no substitute!), exciting aromas and a great texture.
#5: Less is (s)t more
Whether that pun makes sense or not, our point is this: the most important idea about craft or bean-to-bar chocolate is that small amounts are enough to satisfy chocolate cravings. Even with small pieces you get everything you need: a full-bodied chocolate taste, complex aromas and a pleasant melt (+ a good conscience because you have consumed in moderation and ethically). The 100% chocolate takes this idea to the extreme: a single piece offers 100% flavor and a long, lingering finish - experts say the flavor of high-quality chocolates can linger for up to 20 minutes.
#6: Stay Flexible - 100% + X
The 100% chocolate can also be versatile - if you let it. Of course, it's great that she has no sugar. Probably the most important reason for buying a 100% chocolate. And yet it is sometimes too intense or not sweet enough for us. That's why we experimented a bit with the +X: we find that a small drop of honey is often just the right addition. We particularly like the combo with rosemary and honey, but here too it is the same as with all pairings: what you like is good ... and there are plenty of types of honey. We also tested the combination with molasses and found it to be good. And if you like it a little more exciting, you can dribble a little (good) balsamic vinegar onto your piece of 100% chocolate. The sweetness and acidity found in vinegar makes a great complement to most 100% chocolates.
#7: Strong chocolate, strong drinks
If you like a good glass of whiskey or a strong rum, then the 100% dark chocolate may soon become a welcome companion. Even small pieces complement the drinks perfectly. Also, the stimulating effects of chocolate can help clear your head, while the drinks tend to do the opposite. As with all food pairings, the “like meets like” strategy is reliable. Of course you can always look for contrasts, but it's easier to mostly look for similarities. Of course there are countless of them, a good bourbon with 100% chocolate is a safe bet, for example.
#8: Say Cheese… and Chocolate
A combination that is often underestimated and wrongly ignored is cheese with chocolate. Very little can go wrong and you can quickly find great combinations – even without a lot of practice. In fact, there are always craft chocolates that already contain cheese-like flavors. If you want to make it particularly easy (aka delicious), you can consider adding 100% chocolate to the cheese board. Just like the cheese, the 100% chocolate is also spicy - the 100% chocolate cheese platter is therefore ideal as a starter and dessert. If you are missing the sweet component here, you should take a look at tip 6 again: fruit jams or a little honey go wonderfully not only with 100% chocolate but also with cheese ... not to mention a sweeter glass of wine (but more on that later more).
#9: Chocolate with beer - I advise you
As already mentioned, in addition to wine and chocolate, there are far more uncomplicated combinations. The chocolate-beer pairing, which is (still) largely unpopular in Germany, has already found many fans internationally. Exciting here: chocolate and beer have some similarities; they are both fermented and have already undergone an exciting taste development. Both rely on the skill of the maker to bring out the best flavors. When pairing, it is therefore advisable (as is always the case) to combine high-quality products. Again, the same applies here: like and like like to associate, but contrasting aromas can also complement each other perfectly. There are many exciting combinations, we can recommend a pairing with stout or porter.
#10: Wine & Chocolate – Yay or Nay?
We have saved this tip for last: as has already been mentioned a few times, wine and chocolate are not as easy to combine as everyone thinks. It is a hotly debated topic among (wine and chocolate) sommeliers, top chefs and experts. We think: wine and chocolate (when put together well) can make a great combination. A common problem is that the sweetness of chocolate makes the wine taste sour. The attentive readers will notice: one person's sorrow is another person's joy! In this case, the unsweetened 100% chocolate really comes into its own. The wines that don't work with other chocolates can make a wonderful combination with 100% chocolate. And as mentioned earlier, combining similar flavors and intensity levels is an easy way to approach pairing. And because 100% chocolate is dark and intense, it's best paired with a dry, intense red wine.
Eat 100% chocolate and talk about it. As you should have noticed at this point, we think it's worth getting more involved with 100% chocolate. Whether as a shocker, a little pairing adventure or an exciting souvenir for the next (dinner) party: 100% dark chocolate can initiate interesting culinary discussions and lead to fantastic new taste experiences. Try it out - it's worth it! Akesson's 100%
, Firetree 100%
and Chocolate Tree 100%
are our current favorites - and we've tried our way through many for you!