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The Gloss Report: Dark chocolate
January 31st 2014
Dark chocolate is better for you, but does it taste good? The Glossy Posse put it to the test with this week's Gloss Report
“Chocolate gets a bad rap as an unhealthy food, but that's mostly due to the dairy, white sugar and preservatives that are commonly added to the finished product,” says nutritionist Jenna Zoe. "The cocoa powder itself is actually extremely beneficial for your health - to the point that it qualifies as a superfood. The trick to getting all the benefits is to opt for chocolate with as high a percentage of cocoa as you can take; anything above 70% is a good choice (and at that level it's usually dairy free too). You could also choose raw chocolate over regular chocolate because it preserves all the nutrients of the cocoa. In addition, there are some great brands nowadays that use healthier sweeteners such as xylitol, maples sugar and coconut sugar.”
With that in mind, the Glossy Posse took on the very tricky task of testing out the healthiest chocolate we could find…
Divine 85% Dark Chocolate
Price: £2 for 100g
Buy online: www.divinechocolate.com
Feedback: “As someone with a very, very sweet tooth (current resolution is to cut back. So far, so not good), dark chocolate isn't something I've ever become accustomed to. I'd rather have a bag of Milkybar Buttons than a bar of cocoa's finest, but having recently found a happy medium in the shape of dark chocolate digestives I thought I'd manage. Perhaps, though, I should have started at 70, rather than 85%. This Fairtrade bar by Divine is apparently made with cocoa beans from Ghana where farmers get a fair deal - so it's all in good taste but sadly, my tastebuds weren't all that keen. It's sharp, it's really, really dark and it leaves a very dry, bitter aftertaste which I solved with a milkier-than-usual cup of tea. That said, the more I tried (I wanted to give it a fair go) the more I became used to it and definitely found it less of a shock to my sweet tooth. I'm not sure I'd swap my biscuits for it just yet, but I'm impressed that it's so cheap given its Fairtrade credentials and there's always the 70% bar to ease me in slowly - I think maybe it was a case of too much too soon."
Ombar Organic Dark 72% Probiotic Chocolate
Price: £1.99 for 38g
Buy online: www.planetorganic.com
Feedback: “The fact that this virtuous little bar contains bio-live cultures (friendly bacteria) made it all the more appealing given that I had an upset tummy during testing (normally this would obviously be my DREAM Gloss Report). It didn’t cure my bug but I could appreciate its efforts! With a high cocoa content it has a very rich, intense taste - I could only manage a few squares but it was delicious and certainly not too bitter. The bar’s sweetness comes courtesy of organic coconut palm sugar, a much more saintly alternative to the refined white stuff on a multitude of levels. Being raw, it also contains far more antioxidants than your average bar of Bourneville. Basically this is the most kindly bar of chocolate you could come across - it’s considerate of the environment, workers rights, your tummy, your health and your tastebuds. So heroic that it almost justifies the price tag (you don’t get a whole lot of bonbon for your buck with Ombar).
Godiva Chocolatier Extra Dark 85% Cacao
Buy online: www.godivachocolates.co.uk
Feedback: "This is the darkest chocolate in the Godiva range and for an 85% cacao dark chocolate it's surprisingly enjoyable. Although a little bitter on the tongue, it is not overpowering and does become bearable after the first bite. Its smooth and creamy texture is what helps, I think; don't get me wrong, this is by no means ranking up there with the Galaxy and Twirls but it's actually tasty for a hit of chocolate that's not quite so bad for you. It does get a bit sickly after a few squares so you don't feel as though you want too much, and I found it left my mouth quite dry as well. Their 72% option however is a lot less bitter and is a good choice for those gradually moving up towards the higher percentage - I could easily get through half a bar of that!
Pacari Raw Chocolate 100% Cacao
Buy online: www.therawchocolateshop.com
Feedback: ”I’m a dark chocolate lover and I rarelyever touch the Milky Bar stuff (believe me if you make the switch and stick with it, your tastebuds change and the sweet stuff tastes illegally sickly). So, as a daily muncher of 85% cocoa dark choc anyway, when this one came into the office at 100%, with absolutely no added sugar, I was a little blasé about how it would taste.
“I shouldn’t have been - this is quite frankly the most acrid tasting ‘chocolate’ I have ever tasted in my life. As it hits your tastebuds there is a hint of bitterness, but the normal reassuring sweetness you get from any other dark chocolate is wiped out with a bitterness so extreme that I had to refrain from spitting it out. The girls in the office had many descriptions for it; ‘It tastes like something dead,’ said one, ‘Like smoke and ashes’ said another, “Like soil,’ said one more. There is clearly a reason why companies add sugar to cacao.
“I am in full praise of Pacari for creating a bar that is actually healthy since it is pure cacao beans, but give me a Naked Bar any day.”
Green & Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate (70%)
Buy online: www.greenandblacksdirect.com
Feedback: “Being the chocolate monsters that we are, we thought it about time to replace our cocoa cravings with something a little less damaging to our waistlines that would still manage to satisfy our sugar pangs. So, with a stiff upper lip we put down the Galaxy bars and reached for milk chocolate’s suaver, more sophisticated and most definitely darker sibling. While a lot of people really do love the dark chocolate I myself have difficulties, due to having the taste palette of a six year old; I am at my happiest with a Curly Wurly.
“That being said I did actually enjoy this Green & Black’s chocolate more than I expected to. Made with the finest Trinitario cocoa beans, this bar leaves out the milk, sugar and even cream that gets added to milk chocolate (you know, the stuff that makes it tastes really nice). Instead it’s made simply of organic cocoa mass, raw sugar cane, cocoa butter and vanilla extract. At 70% it’s a reasonably high grade of cocoa which is probably why I found it just about enjoyable and still fairly sweet - but it’s definitely the grade of cocoa at which I draw the line. It’s also pretty cheap for a luxury bar of choccy so you don’t have to break the bank to give this healthy heave-ho a go.
“Speaking as a true sweet tooth aficionado this bar is definitely doable if you’re trying to curb your milk cocoa consumption and inadvertently inject a bit more nutrition into your diet. It might not be a Mars bar but it cannot be denied that the health benefits it offers such as antioxidants and fewer sugar crashes must be worth the occasional cocoa swap. Indeed, the initial taste may be a little bitter but the long-term results will most definitely be sweet."
Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Dark Noir
Buy online: www.tesco.com
Feedback: “I’ve had the biggest sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. So imagine my recent surprise when I’ve found myself popping a bar of dark chocolate into my basket over my trusty Kinder Bueno in the line at Tesco - perhaps it’s a sign that my taste buds are finally maturing… however, like an annoying fly in a room that you can hear but can never catch, my penchant for sugar is forever humming in the background, ready to reject anything too tart or sharp that I try to ingest. Unfortunately, that’s what happened this week when I tried this particular type of dark chocolate.
“Although creamy and light in texture, the taste was too bitter for me to handle. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely flavoursome, but it just found itself on the opposite end of my sensory spectrum to sufficiently satisfy my 4pm chocolate craving. Although my preference for dark chocolate still remains intact, I just might stay with the slightly sweeter 70% variety for now. That is of course, until I’m adequately equipped to appreciate the harder stuff in the future.”
Ohso Probiotic Chocolate
Price: £3.99 for 7 bars
Buy online: www.ohsolovesyourtummy.com
Feedback: "This is my kind of marketing. Chocolate that tells you you're doing your body a favour by eating it - who would argue with that? These small bars of dark chocolate promise to deliver the optimum amount of 'good bacteria' to your gut each day (that means one bar a day, not a whole pack) and in trials it was found that they were three times more effective than the same idea in yoghurts or milk. But enough of that. The best bit is they actually taste great; as someone who prefers milk chocolate to dark, these bars are a happy medium with their 53% chocolate cocoa solids; they may not be quite as full of antioxidants as the higher percentages out there but they're certainly more palatable. Add to this that they are wheat free, nut free and gluten free and you've got yourself a 'healthy' bar of chocolate that anyone can enjoy."