100% Dark Chocolate: Bitter or Best Ever? | Serving Up Science

100% Dark Chocolate: Bitter or Best Ever? | Serving Up Science

– There is nothing
quite like chocolate. It’s delicious,
soothing, sensuous, and it’s had a hold on us
for thousands of years. Mm chocolate. I’m gonna like this episode. I’m Sheril Kirshenbaum
and on this episode of Serving Up Science
we’ll finally figure out what all of those percentages
on dark chocolate really mean. We’ll also find out what really high percentage
chocolate taste like. Okay, let’s start with
one of my favorite parts that’s easy to overlook. Chocolate, it literally
grows on trees which means there is such a
thing as a chocolate forest. The wild cacao plant originated
in what’s now Ecuador before being domesticated
at least 4,000 years ago and it all began
with dark chocolate. (harp music) And it comes from
these, cocoa pods. The cocoa fruit ranges
tremendously in color from dark purple to
orange to pale green. The pulp can have a
wide range of tastes from nutty to fruity
and its seeds are bitter without the sweet chocolate
notes you might expect. All in all, picking
up a cocoa pod could be a
disappointing experience for anyone envisioning Willy
Wonka’s chocolate room. To bring out the flavor
we recognize as chocolate it takes a lot of time as
well as drying and roasting. And while it may not be obvious, chocolate is a fermented food. Now we don’t know everything about the history
of making chocolate because the archeological
evidence is limited. But there are vessels
dating back to 1500 BC that still have traces
of chocolate inside from the Almac people
who lived in what is now Central America and
Southern Mexico. Rumor has it that
chocolate beverages were made for ceremonial
and medicinal purposes. Then in the late 1500s the
Spanish got in on the game and brought chocolate
back to Europe. They added some sugar
cane, some honey, and voila it was sweeter. But it was only reserved
for the aristocracy. It wasn’t until the
1820s that Europeans finally figured out
how to press chocolate into a hard pallet leading to the first
bar-like consistency. During the 20th century, mass distribution
greatly increased the popularity of
milk chocolate. And in late 20th century, dark chocolate reappeared
and grew in popularity due to its health benefits. So let’s find out more about, see I don’t want to say
health benefits twice. (beep) It’s good for your body. – [Woman Producer] That’s good. – Oh I wasn’t really gonna say– – [Man Producer] Do it like
that with a Brooklyn accent. (laughter) – Folks where I live don’t
actually talk like that but I can do it pretty well. And I can definitely
do Long Island. (laughter) We should do some serious Long
Island, have my cousins on. (beep) And in the late 20th century, dark chocolate reappeared
and grew in popularity due to its health purpose. Joining me in the kitchen
today is Barbara Wilson owner of Mindo Chocolate. (camera shutter noise) So while I pepper
Barbara with questions, we’ll be eating progressively
darker pieces of chocolate. Think of it like
the serious hot ones but for a bitter sweet things
instead of spicy wings. Anyway, the first
thing I want to ask you is how do we define
dark chocolate and what are the different
percentages actually mean? – Well dark chocolate is
anything over about 50% cocoa and there is no legal
definition of dark chocolate. And the percentages mean
the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate so
if it’s 50% chocolate then the rest is milk or sugar or whatever other ingredients
the chocolate maker puts in the chocolate. What we have here
is 67% chocolate if you’d like to try some. – Yeah let’s do
our low percentage which I should point
out is still higher than a lot of the candy
bars we find here. That’s a good one. What do we have next? – Oh we have a 70% but this
one’s our rustic chocolate so the texture is going
to be very different. – Looks different. – It’s not refined as much as
the other chocolate you tasted so it has crystals in it. – Ooh, I like the rustic. – This one is 77%, we’re
back to smoother chocolate that’s been stone ground
for a longer time. – All right so let’s see, I’m wondering if this is
gonna be a little bit bitter if I’ll still like it. Yup, I still like this one. Let’s taste our
darkest chocolate. – We have 100% chocolate here. – Oh so when we’re going dark we’re going as dark as you can. And what is dark
chocolate known for? – As far as flavor it
would be fruity notes. – It is not what I expected, I mean it wasn’t that bad
bordering on pretty good. It’s much smoother, not nearly as bitter as
I thought it might be. And this is where
how dark chocolate is
made really matters. in the US a candy bar only
legally needs to be 10% cocoa to be called chocolate and that’s clearly just
not going to cut it in terms of health benefits. If you’re interested in
chocolates health perks, it needs to be at least
70% or 80% dark chocolate. And since we’re going darker it’s worth pointing out
that this is good for us. For a long time we’ve known that the theobromine
in chocolate can act as a stimulant
but more recently scientists have spent
a lot of time studying the science of chocolate and the results are a
reason to be optimistic. So when people crave
really dark chocolate what are the notes or flavors
that they’re really going for? – There’s magnesium in chocolate and I think a lot of
people crave magnesium. – Have I mentioned this is
my favorite episode so far? Now that we’ve had our
fair share of chocolate, let’s turn to our panel
of chocolate enthusiasts to see what wins them over. First sample, this is 67% cacao and you’re all gonna
take a little taste and tell us what you think. – It tastes really dark. – [Sheril] Is it
like Halloween candy? – No. I like Halloween candy better. – I think my taste buds
are messing with me it tastes like milk
chocolate (laughs). – [Sheril] You look
like you love it! Do you love it? Our next dark chocolate is 77%. – It’s worse than the 67%. – I don’t like
it, okay I’m sorry but it like it’s sour. – Um, it’s better than the 67%. (gasping) – [Sheril] Taste 100% cocoa. – Mm.
– [Sheril] Really? – I can’t. – [Sheril] Two very
different reactions. How about you Violet,
did you like it? – Mm-hm. – [Sheril] Yeah? – It’s better than both. – [Sheril] Really? – That was painful to eat. – It’s not sweet and I
don’t like very sweet stuff. – And the winner
on this panel is– – [Atlas And Violet]
100% dark chocolate! – Except for me! (upbeat music)



  • PBS Zest

    Mmmmmm 🍫. Where do you stand on the chocolate divide? Milk vs dark chocolate!? We're team dark chocolate all the way. Gimme that CACAO.

  • ComplicatedNickname

    The darker the better for me!

    I have relatively easy access to chocolate right off the chocolate bar tree, i.e. bars directly from the producers (from what I understand it's the paste from the fermented, roasted beans pressed into bars). If you want, you can even get it 100% pure with nothing added, no sugar or sweeteners. It's not pleasant if you're expecting creaminess but it's amazing if you're looking for a hard slap of chocolaty richness.

  • Greg Hartwick

    Seeing your expert judges’ reactions, I’d say I’ve never experienced a proper dark chocolate. Please send samples to PO Box 999, Anytown, USA 99999. 🙏😋

  • Mike McGovern

    I eat fairly low-carb, and when I want to splurge and eat something nominally "sweet," I go for the highest-available percentage dark chocolate I can find (always north of 77%), for its low-sugar content and rich flavors. I tend to really savor each piece and let all those nice fruity/spicy notes come to the fore. Can't do that all the time eating as I do, but it's one of the more satisfying, low-impact cheats available to me.

  • kachnickau

    This was sweet, or wasn't, to be precise 😀 I melted over Violett, little blond girl loving super dark choco to the pieces 😀 And now I run out of chocolate puns and will have to bought myself dark health benefit tomorrow.

  • Maria Teresa

    If it isn't at least 85%, it ain't coming near my mouth

  • Ivy Wagner

    In the American colonies, in 1765, there was the Baker Chocolate Factory, grinding and molding baking chocolate bars. Cool history. The mill has been converted to housing.

  • Kerry Hall

    I liked it!

  • Michael Wade

    Is there a difference between cocoa beans and cacao?

  • KR P

    Just opened a slab of 85%…tastes so bad; almost like coffee grounds.
    I usually go for around 70%, really smooth and melty at mouth temp.

  • CJ Thibeau

    WOOHOO SEASON 2!! So glad we got this as the first episode! I love dark chocolate but have never tried 100%, now I need to!

  • f Forecast

    Is my chocolate addiction a sugar addiction or is it something with the cocoa?

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