Wednesday, December 26, 2007

dark chocolate label: what does it mean?

Healthy Dark Chocolate - What ingredients should you look for on the label?
By EatingWell,

Confused about how to choose a bar that delivers real chocolate with a good dose of health-promoting flavonols? The key is high cocoa content and less sugar and dairy fat. Like milk, which lists percent butterfat by weight, good dark chocolates report their cocoa content by percent weight. Look for 70 percent cocoa or higher (the cocoa contains the flavonols). Note that milk chocolate may have no more than 10 percent cocoa and pure baker’s chocolate is too bitter for eating out of hand.

Many people find 70 percent cocoa somewhat bitter at first but soon come to appreciate the richer taste and lack of sugar. With the intense flavor of higher cocoa content, a small portion can easily satisfy chocolate cravings. When cocoa percent is not listed—and many labels are truly confusing—the first ingredient on the label should be cocoa, cocoa liquor or cocoa solids. Some common chocolate label terms:

• Cocoa liquor (chocolate liquor): After fermenting and roasting, the inner cocoa bean nibs are crushed and heated. The combination is ground to a thick paste made up of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Despite the name, it contains no alcohol.
• Cocoa solids (cocoa powder): The dry paste, rich in flavonols, left when cocoa butter is removed from cocoa liquor.
• Cocoa butter: The ivory-colored cocoa fats that can be separated out of cocoa liquor. Cocoa butter lends chocolate a smooth texture and wealth of flavor (without cocoa solids, it forms the basis for white chocolate).
• Vanilla (pure extract, sometimes called Bourbon): A natural flavoring; adds a complementary perfume to chocolate.
• Vanillin: A less expensive, artificial substitute for pure vanilla that many tasters consider inferior.
• Lecithin: A nutritionally acceptable emulsifier to keep fats from separating out of the chocolate and to give a smooth consistency and longer shelf life. Usually derived from the fats in soybeans.

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