The rise in popularity of 100% dark chocolate comes as more people become aware of the negative health effects of eating too much sugar. Around 2016, as more people tried keto and paleo diets, they also sought out healthy snacks. At its most basic, the definition of 100 percent dark chocolate is that it has no sugar.
Originally, it wasn’t thought of as a treat due to its bitterness and dry texture. Craft chocolate makers saw an opportunity to help people enjoy 100 percent dark chocolate and have worked with textures and flavors to improve the taste of 100% dark chocolate and make it more enjoyable.
So what is 100% dark chocolate besides a sugar-free snack? Keep reading to learn more about what 100 percent dark chocolate is, its health benefits, and all the things you can do with it.
100% Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, which provide many health benefits. Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol that contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are found naturally in vegetables, fruits and products made from plants (like 100 dark chocolate). Dark chocolate contains two to three times more flavonoid-rich cocoa than milk chocolate.
Health benefits of 100% dark chocolate include the following:
- Combats the presence of free radicals, which cause chronic illness and disease
- Improves the function of the vascular endothelium (the cells that line the insides of your blood vessels)
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
- May protect against conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
- Offers protection against digestive issues such as inflammatory bowel disease
- Improves blood flow, which in turn improves brain function
- Protects your skin from sun damage
- May reduce blood pressure
- Eases constipation
- May reduce the risk of diabetes
How Much Sugar Is in 100% Dark Chocolate?
You may have noticed the percentages displayed on high-quality chocolate labels. What does this number mean? The percentage listed is the percent of cacao mass that is in the chocolate, with the balance being sugar or other additives. The higher the percentage listed on a chocolate bar, the higher the cacao content and the lower the sugar content. One hundred percent dark chocolate has no added sugar at all.
“No added sugar” means that no sugar and no ingredient containing sugar was added during processing. It also means no other ingredients are added to the recipe. A 100 percent dark chocolate bar contains only processed cacao beans and no added fats or sugars.
Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet is only one of many of the 100 dark chocolate health benefits. Eating excessive amounts of sugar can lead to weight gain and increased risk of diabetes, among other health problems, but 100 percent dark chocolate prepared by craft chocolate makers with nuanced flavors allows you to enjoy a treat without the added sugar.
Does 100% Dark Chocolate Have Milk?
Because milk is one of eight major food allergens, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires products made with milk to be labeled as such. Any product that doesn’t contain milk is labeled “dairy free.”
The FDA has found that some dark chocolate claiming to be “dairy free” contained potentially hazardous traces of the milk allergen. In a survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, four of 52 products sampled by the FDA had enough milk to cause an allergic reaction in those sensitive to dairy products. All four of those products were recalled.
Why would milk be found in chocolate labeled “dairy free”? Commercial chocolate makers often use the same equipment to make dark chocolate and milk chocolate, or other chocolate products that contain milk, allowing milk to transfer to dark chocolate products.
If you are allergic to dairy, make sure to read the label. Statements such as “may contain milk” or “produced in a facility with milk” suggest milk may be in the chocolate bar. Even if the product is labeled “dairy free,” you might want to contact the manufacturer to confirm how the chocolate was made.
What to Do with 100% Dark Chocolate
Eat it just as it is, of course! You can taste the flavors from the cacao bean, and since it’s such a decadent treat, you won’t need much.
Baking is another good use for 100 percent dark chocolate. Consider making the following:
- Hot cocoa made with dark chocolate and topped with marshmallows, nuts, seeds, coconut or chili powder
- Orange and dark chocolate cake
- Raspberry dark chocolate torte
- Dark chocolate ganache (add it to a pastry or dip strawberries in it)
- Dark chocolate bark
- Dark chocolate chip cookies
- Banana nut bread with dark chocolate pieces
- Homemade dark chocolate ice cream
If the item contains chocolate, then you can make it yourself and enjoy all the health benefits 100% dark chocolate provides.
What Is the Difference Between Dark Chocolate and 100% Cocoa
Cocoa and chocolate both start out as cacao beans growing on the Theobroma tree in tropical regions. Cocoa is the powder that remains after the cacao beans have been roasted and the cocoa butter pressed out.
Chocolate is made up of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The flavor comes from the dry cocoa solids, and the creamy texture comes from the cocoa butter.
The biggest difference between chocolate and cocoa is that there is no cocoa butter in cocoa powder. Cocoa has all the same health benefits as chocolate.
What to Eat with 100% Dark Chocolate
Now that you know the health benefits of 100% dark chocolate, you may be wondering what to eat or drink with it.
One hundred percent dark chocolate pairs well with a cheese plate. The intensity of dark chocolate goes well with stronger cheeses such as camembert. You can add honey or fruit preserves to balance the intensity of the cheese.
Another option is to pair your dark chocolate with high-quality black coffee. Sweetened chocolate tends to make regular coffee taste sour, but pairing like with like is a good place to start. For instance, you can pair unsweetened coffee with unsweetened chocolate, fruity coffee with fruity chocolate, and nutty coffee with nutty chocolate.
As with coffee, sweetened chocolate can make your wine taste sour. Try pairing unsweetened chocolate with a dry wine and experiment with flavors to find the combination you like best.
The stimulants in dark chocolate pair well with strong drinks like whiskey or rum that tend to have the opposite effect. Dark chocolate also goes well with iced green tea, oolong tea and red wines. And you can sprinkle some dark chocolate shavings on your sweet and savory foods to give them more depth.
How Much 100 Dark Chocolate a Day?
The recommended amount of 100% dark chocolate a day is approximately one to two ounces (or 30 to 60 grams). And if you need another reason to eat dark chocolate, consider that in a study of nearly 20,000 people, followed over a period of eight years, those who ate an average of 0.2 ounces (or 6 grams) of chocolate per day had a 39 percent lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
At Cococlectic, you will find the best craft chocolates through their online bean-to-bar subscription service. Cococlectic’s chocolate is vegan, non-GMO, fair-trade and ethically sourced and does not contain any soy, gluten, dairy or nuts. However, the chocolates may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients.
Cococlectic features a different American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker each month. These chocolate makers are passionate about their trade and make craft chocolate bars from scratch using only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter.
Cococlectic offers a variety of craft chocolates in gift boxes or through a chocolate-of-the-month subscription club.
Sign up today for the subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month.