My lifetime of chocolate loving, eating, and now making, means that I get a lot of questions about chocolate.
I love to talk about chocolate with friends, family, customers, pretty much anyone who also wants to talk about it! I am always learning more, every time I talk to other chocolate lovers, I gain some more chocolate wisdom. That’s why I love having this space to share what I know, answer questions, and connect with fellow chocolate lovers.
When you go to a store that has a wide selection of chocolate, you will notice many good chocolate companies put percentages on their labels. Questions that I do get asked often is “What do chocolate percentages mean? What number should I be picking? Is one better than the other?”
Let’s talk about that, because the more knowledge you have about chocolate, the easier it is to pick the type you love and enjoy!
Soooo….What Do Chocolate Percentages Mean?
Well, it’s pretty simple—the percentage on a chocolate bar label tells you how much of the bar, by weight, is actually chocolate. This means all parts of the cacao beans including cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and/or cocoa liquor.
The remaining percentage is everything else, usually a sweetener and any other ingredients that may be added like nuts, fruits, or spices. In this regard, percentages can give you a good idea of the sugar content in a particular bar of chocolate, or in Liberty Chocolates’ case, honey content (Yay, honey!)
Putting it in terms you can eat—our handmade, honey-sweetened Extra Dark 80% bar contains about 20% honey and 80% chocolate. That’s it! This smooth, intensely-rich dark chocolate bar will have you coming back for just one more bite……until it’s gone!
Chocolate Flavor Vs. Sweetness
Most people will choose a percentage based on how much sweetness they like when eating chocolate. If you are a mild, milk chocolate lover, you may never see a percentage on your chocolate of choice. Milk chocolate usually has somewhere around 40% chocolate. The other 60% is sweetener and milk (and anything else that has been added).
If you are a fan of mild or milk chocolate and you are venturing into the wild world of dark chocolate, then you will probably prefer to start your journey with chocolate that has a lower percentage of cacao (chocolate). If you like your chocolate to have an intense flavor and crave a bitter edge to it, then a higher cacao content (think 60%-80%) is what you’ll want to put in your mouth.
And believe it or not, a really good 100% dark chocolate (that means it is unsweetened) can be just the perfect midday treat if you take a teeny piece and just let it melt in your mouth. It’s a great way to become familiar with some of the nuances in chocolate that you won’t notice as much in sweetened chocolate.
The percentage of cacao in a chocolate bar can also be a general indicator of the intensity of chocolatey-ness (is that a word?) versus sweetness. The higher the percentage of cacao, the more intense and less sweet the chocolate flavor will be.
Oh, and a quick note on white chocolate. White chocolate is actually just cocoa butter, milk, and sweetener. So there is no cocoa (the part of chocolate that we think of when we think of chocolate) in white chocolate. But that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.
One thing worth noting is that cacao bean varieties vary in sweetness and flavor, so even if two different chocolates have the same percentage of cacao, the taste of each one will be most likely be unique. All the more reason to try them out!
It’s also important to keep in mind that cacao percentages are a measure of quantity, not quality.
It’s possible to buy chocolate with a high cacao percentage and be disappointed at the intensity of the flavor. No matter what ratio is being used, if the ingredients are not high quality, then the chocolate won’t be either!
If you enjoy an intense, robust flavor, look at your labels carefully, and opt for only the finest organic, fair trade cacao and high-quality sweeteners.
My first priority when making small batch, Liberty Chocolate bars is to use only top-quality, ethically-sourced ingredients. This is what allows me to create delectable dark chocolates that you can feel good about eating while following your chocolate bliss. (Woo-hoo!)
If you have questions about chocolate, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer your question – or find the answer if I don’t know it!
Cheers to chocolate and making the world a wonderful place to live!