Good chocolate, bad chocolate: Here’s how to tell
It’s all on the label
Jun 4, 2018
If you’re someone who loves chocolate (I mean, who doesn’t?), it may be quite a challenge to pick the really good ones from those that are just, well, okay. Especially if you come across a bar that’s wrapped in fancy schmancy packaging, one could assume it’s the world’s greatest.
But there’s a nifty little trick on how you can scour the aisles for the best chocolate bar and become an instant chocolate expert—it’s all on the label.
From “bean to bar”
If you come across these words when you pick up a chocolate bar, there’s a good chance that the maker has taken whole cacao beans and ground them to perfection from scratch.
Check the cacao percentage
Most craft chocolates note where its cocoa comes from. Megan Giller, food writer and author of the book “Bean to Bar Chocolate,” says that if your chocolate has 70 percent on the label, it means that 70 percent of the bar consists of “cocoa mass—cocoa solids and cocoa butter.” The remaining 30 then consists of typical ingredients like sugar, milk, nuts, etc.
Read the ingredients
Many artisans only use cacao beans and sugar, but for commercial chocolates, other ingredients are added such as soy lechitin (to improve texture) and vanilla (for taste). But if your bar contains “non-cocoa butter fats,” say vegetable oil or milk substitutes, it’s not considered chocolate at all. Rather, it will say “chocolatey” or “made with chocolate.”
If you see the words “fair trade” or “direct trade” on the label, it means your chocolate’s company has established a good relationship with their workers and farmers. This is ideal and most of the stuff from them are almost usually good. Giller noted that the more information you read about the beans and the farmer on the label means there’s a good chance your chocolate is made ethically and conscientiously.
Phrases/terms to avoid
Of course, if you want amazing chocolate, there are a few bumps you need to avoid to make sure you only get the best:
- Vanillin – Also known as artificial vanilla, it’s one of those ingredients you don’t want in your chocolate.
- PGPR – This stands for polyglycerol polyricinoleate, an emulsifier used in low-quality chocolate.
Header courtesy of Unsplash
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