What Does “Percentage of Chocolate” Mean
|At Saturday’s Dark Chocolate class at Rendez-Vous Chocolat, someone asked for an explanation of what it means when a chocolate bar states that it is 70% chocolate. One doesn’t see this as much on Belgium chocolate as in the USA, but it does exist. So, I decided to do some research so that I could answer this question from both a US and Belgian chocolate perspective. There is a wealth of information on the web about chocolate and percentages. Though the articles may different in how they go about explaining what the percentages means, they are all in agreement that the answer is not as simple as a mere explanation of ingredient ratios.
|On the surface, the percentage refers to the percentage of “Cocoa mass” (a controlled term used in the EU) and cocoa butter in chocolate. This percentage excludes the other contents of chocolate such as sugar, vanilla and soya lecithin. However, the quality of the “cocoa mass” can vary such that two chocolates with the same percentages can taste remarkable different. In the US, the focus seems to be on the percentage of chocolate, completely ignoring the fact that the chocolate may have a fat other than cocoa butter. Better to stick with Belgian Chocolate where you know what you are getting: chocolate made from the finest cocao with pure cocoa butter.
Below are the articles I found helpful.
Chocolate by the Numbers
This article deconstructs the meaning behind the different percentages of chocolate. First it explains cocoa mass and then it explains how different percentages of cocoa mass impact the taste of chocolate.
Chocolate and Percentages: What Does it All Mean?
By: Patric Chocolate
DATE: March 3, 2008
A very detailed look at what percentages of chocolate mean.
Chocolate Linguistics Part 2: Cocoa Mass v. Cocoa Solids
By: Chocolate in Context
DATE: August 7, 2007
This article provides definitions of cocoa mass and cocoa solids from three industry professionals to demonstrate the differing perspectives on these terms and how this confuses the concept of “percentage of chocolate” in labeling.