A chocolate bar in a beautiful package and at a low price is not always a product that should be reached. Do not be confused by elegant inscriptions informing about 45% cocoa content. The remaining 55% is equally important. And thanks to the ingredients list on the packaging, you can quickly see if the chocolate you are going to buy will satisfy your taste buds.
It may surprise you to know that very few ingredients are needed to make chocolate. In fact, only two are enough – cocoa beans and sugar. It is thanks to them that you can get dark chocolate. If you add cocoa butter to it, the natural fat from cocoa beans, you will give your chocolate a creamy texture. And if you also use milk, the result is milk chocolate.
So why do we often see long rows of ingredients on the packaging, when it should be possible to count them on the fingers of one hand? There are many optional extras that are designed to enhance or diversify the flavor of your chocolate. Some of them can have a positive effect on the quality of the product, while others are only used to reduce production costs.
In the composition of chocolate, you can often find emulsifiers, i.e. chemical compounds intended to ensure better durability of the consistency of the product. Usually, soy lecithin is used for this, although there are also numerous substitutes. Thanks to it, chocolate shows a much greater dissolution resistance. Lecithin also allows you to reduce production costs, and also supports machine production. All these benefits make it eagerly used by large producers. However, most artisanal chocolate manufacturers avoid using it. They prefer to keep the ingredient lists on their products short and free from artificially produced substances.
Vanilla is often added to white and milk chocolate to give them a sweet flavor. However, chocolate is infamous among many aficionados because it is sometimes used to mask the unpleasant taste of burnt cocoa beans. However, real vanilla (and not an artificial substitute) added in small amounts to properly roasted cocoa can delight your taste buds.
Like vanilla, other natural flavors can also be found in the composition of chocolate to emphasize its taste. However, some consider them to be completely unnecessary. And a much worse addition are their artificial counterparts, whose multi-letter names often seem almost impossible to pronounce. Artificial flavors are designed to mimic natural flavors, and for large companies they are much cheaper and easier to obtain. However, their impact on health is not entirely clear, so they certainly will not be included in the product composition of any self-respecting artisanal chocolate manufacturer.
Palm oil is a cheap and not very tasty substitute for natural cocoa butter. If it is in the warehouse, you are certainly dealing with low-quality chocolate. Palm oil may also appear as “shea butter” or “palm oil”, but whatever the name, it is better to avoid products containing this ingredient.
Large chocolate companies focus on placing the percentage of cocoa on the front of the pack, but the back side and the ingredients should be the most important for you. And remember, the shorter the ingredients list, the more likely you are to have a quality product in your hands.
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