by Wendy Hunt, for the Mansfield Pointe Claire
It’s Easter. And everyone loves to espouse the health benefits of chocolate in order to justify their consumption of Easter goodies. After all, chocolate is full of flavonoids that have lots of health benefits like decreased blood pressure, decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol, decrease risk of blood clots, increased blood flow, increased serotonin levels that enhance mood….
But buyer BEWARE. Although cocoa is indeed good for you, not all chocolate is created equal! And the ingredients in what I call the anti-chocolate may even be detrimental to your health!
Here are some questions you can ask to try and catch the imposters.
1) Is the chocolate glossy with no blemishes, bubbles or white stripes on surface? If it’s not glossy, it has been poorly tempered – a delicate technique that involves melting and cooling the chocolate to coax the fatty acids in the cocoa butter into a stable form!
2) Does it smell like chocolate? Sounds basic, but anti-chocolate has no smell due to the “fake filler” ingredients and lack of attention to key processing steps including conching (mixing and kneading) and refining the chocolate.
3) Does it break with a clean snap? Or crumble? Crumbling is another sign that the chocolate is poorly tempered and is likely made with fillers rather than using real cocoa (which contains cocoa butter) which is harder to work with.
4) Is the taste smooth and velvety? Or gritty or waxy?
5) Does it melt slowly with an evolving taste that lingers?
6) What are the actual ingredients? Is it full of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, whey, and lactose fillers? A little soy lecithin is ok. But ideally, your chocolate should be just cocoa and sugar!
To help you out, here are some examples of a “Milk Chocolate Flavored Bar” – the anti-chocolate, compared to 72% “Real” Chocolate bar and a Real “Milk” chocolate bar. Ingredients are listed by weight.
And white chocolate? This is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. There is no cocoa powder in white chocolate – no flavonoids and, some would argue, not a “real chocolate.