One of the most common and delicate ingredients used in everyday baking and in professional settings is chocolate. There are a wide variety of chocolates available in the market, from the soft and creamy white chocolate to the strong and bitter dark chocolate.
Of the many chocolate types used, dark chocolate is possibly the most versatile as its dense and rich flavour shines through almost anything, perfect to use alongside spices. Dark chocolates get their rich flavour from the highly concentrated cocoa liquor in them, typically about 30% to 90% and sometimes even more, depending on the brand. And dark chocolates are able to retain that intense flavour and colour because of the absence of milk; they only contain cocoa butter, cocoa solids and a bit of sugar.
Now depending on who you ask, dark chocolates come in three different types, they are divided based on the ratio of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and the cocoa solids used, but the thing they all have in common thing is the absence of milk solids.
Let’s take a look at the different types of dark chocolate.
Sweet Dark Chocolate, as the name suggests, contains the most sugar out of the bunch, almost matching the other ingredients in ratio, but they at least have 35% cocoa in them, making them perfect for eating out of hand.
Semisweet Chocolate is the one commonly used in cooking and baking; they contain about 60% cocoa with less sugar than sweet dark chocolate. They are used to make chocolate chip cookies and are seen as a standard ingredient in baking.
Bittersweet Dark Chocolate contains the most cocoa with 70%-90%, they contain the lowest amount of sugar and are preferred over semisweet chocolate for baking. But both bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are interchangeable; you can use any one of them for baking. The only thing to keep in mind while using semisweet over bittersweet chocolate in a recipe is the amount of sugar; always add less when switching to semisweet chocolate.
Growth of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has gained a lot of attention in recent years, even before the pandemic; as the trend for healthier food continues, people choose dark chocolate as their indulgence snack primarily because of its low sugar and high cocoa mix. Not to mention dark chocolate bars are considered premium, making them great gifts on celebratory occasions, and seasonal dark chocolates are even more expensive.
Apart from being an indulgence product, it’s also very healthy if taken in a moderate amount, much like coffee. Dark chocolates are rich in antioxidants and contain way less caffeine than any morning beverage.
Generally, the darker the chocolate, the more healthy it is because of higher cocoa content than sugar or milk. Dark chocolates also have more caffeine in them, but the amount is still less than your average cup of coffee. For example, a shot of espresso has 63.6 mg of caffeine per 1 fluid ounce(30 g), while dark chocolate only contains 12 milligrams of caffeine per ounce; the limit for a healthy adult is 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. But do keep in mind that chocolates are also high in calories, so a bit per week if you are on a diet,
Dark Chocolate Desserts Trends of 2021
Cup Desserts, basically converting a full plate desert into a cup, this has become quite popular in restaurants and coffee shops. Here are some examples for you to try at home:
- Milo and Coco Pop Parfaits
- Black Forest Mousse
- Mocha Tiramisu Cups
- Nutella Mug Cake
- Peppermint Mousse
- Mango And Coconut Trifle
Herbs & Spices With Dark Chocolate: The deep bitter flavour of dark chocolate is perfect for adding unusual ingredients without overpowering the cocoa flavour; spices like chilli, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, pepper, and cinnamon are the common ingredients in this case. The idea has always been there, but chiefs have only recently started to experiment with it seriously.
Compound Chocolate Coatings/Glazings are used to add an extra layer of flavour to baked goods such as doughnuts, biscuits, snack bars, pastries, nuts, cereals, and wafers, to mention a few. Vegetable fats and chocolate are typically used for the double coating; most baked treats are now wrapped in cocoa butter. It adds the necessary fat, moisture, and chocolaty flavour. Nowadays, almost everything baked or otherwise is double dipped in chocolate, from fresh-picked strawberries to five-tier wedding cakes.
In the exotic section, the Japanese Fruit Yuzu has become a popular choice for dark chocolate, effectively replacing lemon. Another big trend going around is Hot Cocoa Bombs, which are balls of chocolate and marshmallow mixed with some sprinkles; as the name suggests, you drop them into a cup of hot milk and let it melt into a chocolaty drink.
Trending Desserts Using Dark Chocolate
- Double Chocolate Fudge-Stuffed Loaf Cake
- Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake
- Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes
- Vegan Chocolate Fudge
- Vegan Ganache
- Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies
- Chocolate Flan
- Dark Chocolate Fondue
- Chocolate Liqueur Cake
- Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake
- Rich Italian Hot Chocolate
- Chai Spiced Hot Chocolate
- Lavender Hot Chocolate
The sky is the limit with chocolate; there will always be a new trend each month, especially now when most people work from home and slowly start picking up hobbies such as baking.