Organic dark chocolate - sweet but not too sweet and almost lustful in its intensity. There's no treat that quite fulfills the essence of Valentine's Day like a good, organic dark chocolate. Serve it as it suits: in a mousse, in hot chocolate or in a beautiful bar of chocolate. Organic dark chocolate is a special treat - especially when shared with your loved one on Valentine's Day.
Why Choose Organic Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is a potent source of antioxidants - and some research indicates that chocolate benefits the circulatory system and may offer anti-carcinogenic effects. These effects are made more potent the higher the cocoa content is; that is, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Chocolate is also a rich source of minerals including magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper and iron. Milk chocolate should be avoided, if possible, as it contains powdered milk which rife with oxidized cholesterol.
Organic Dark Chocolate: A Brand-by-brand Analysis
The quality of ingredients and the integrity of manufacturers can vary from brand-to-brand. From types of sugar and whether or not a company uses soy-based emulsifiers, we examine the details of six organic dark chocolate brands, their ingredients, parent companies and their ethics surrounding social and global responsibility.
Sugar: Certified Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
Sugar: Certified Organic Whole, Unrefined Evaporated Cane Juice (Rapadura)
Sugar: Certified Organic Unrefined Cane Sugar
Sugar: Beet Sugar (non-GMO)
Sugar: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
Green & Blacks**
Sugar: Raw Cane Sugar
How I Choose My Organic Dark Chocolate
I am a chocolate lover. Organic chocolate and long hot baths are among my two biggest vices - and when I choose a dark chocolate, I rely on a few factors: the ingredients, whether an emulsifying agent such as soy lecithin is used as well as the ethics and social responsibility of the manufacturer.
Sugar: In my kitchen, I avoid refined sweeteners and so if I'm going to enjoy a good organic dark chocolate, I want it to count; that is, I prefer a chocolate made with whole, unrefined cane sugar which retains its mineral content. That said, any sugar is still a sugar - minerals intact or not.
Emulsifiers: I try my best to avoid chocolates with soy-based emulsifiers, preferring, instead, to enjoy a chocolate with a higher cocoa butter content as cocoa butter is rich in stearic acid - a wholesome, nourishing fat. This is my personal preference, but note that the inclusion of a higher content of cocoa butter (as opposed to an emulsifier like lecithin) results in a more dilute flavor which is why some manufacturers, such as Green & Blacks choose to use an emulsifier: it's about flavor. My personal preference, however, ranks fat content above intensity of flavor. Note that when an emulsifying agent is used, it is quite dilute and used in very little quantity.
Social & Environmental Sustainability: And, without a doubt, I choose a good dark chocolate from a company who sources organic ingredients and from farmers that are treated equitably, paid fairly and who practice sustainable techniques - that does not mean I only look for the Fair Trade label which is an expensive designation.
Happy Valentine's Day!
**Please note that Green & Blacks was generous enough to send me a few sample bars for this post; alas, my coworkers enjoyed the milk chocolate bars while I brought home a Mayan Gold dark chocolate bar to my family.