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Hi there, fellow dark chocolate lovers! As a maker of pure bean-to-bar chocolate, I'm excited to share some insights into the meaning of Dark Chocolate Percentages. Many dark chocolate enthusiasts proudly share their favourite percentage, but not everyone fully understands what this number truly means. Let's deep-dive into the math of dark chocolate percentages and dispel some myths about the value of different numbers. Whether you're a connoisseur or a casual fan of dark chocolate, understanding this number can enhance your indulgence and impress your dinner guests with your newfound knowledge. Let's uncover the real deal behind dark chocolate percentage. 

To start with, what is pure chocolate? 

Before calculating dark chocolate percentages, it's crucial to understand what pure chocolate is made of. During chocolate processing, roasted cacao nibs are heated and ground to make chocolate liquor, which consists of roughly 50% cocoa solids and 50% cocoa butter. Cocoa solids provide the chocolate's flavour, while cocoa butter gives it a smooth, creamy texture. The combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter is known as cocoa mass, representing 100% dark chocolate. 

What then gets added to pure chocolate? 

When making chocolate for consumption, the percentage of cocoa mass reduces as other ingredients are added. Besides sugar, everyday dark chocolate might include flavours (like vanilla), emulsifiers (like soy lecithin), milk powder, inclusions (like nuts or raisins), or even other vegetable fats. All these added ingredients contribute to the total weight of the chocolate. 

How do I calculate a dark chocolate percentage? 

Calculating dark chocolate percentage is straightforward. Find the total cocoa mass in the chocolate from the ingredients list or nutrition panel, and then divide it by the total weight of all ingredients. For example, if a chocolate bar has 35 grams of cocoa mass, 14 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of emulsifier, with a total weight of 50 grams, the dark chocolate percentage would be 35/50 or 70%. 

But wait, not all chocolate is that simple. 

Some chocolate manufacturers use special extraction processes to separate cocoa solids and cocoa butter from cocoa liquor and remix them in different ratios. This can affect the flavour interpretation since regulatory standards require the percentage to account for the total cocoa mass (solids + butter), but we can only taste the solids part. Thus, the percentage might not accurately reflect the flavour. 

Let's see this in action with our previous example: 

Imagine the chocolate recipe now includes an extra 10 grams of pure cocoa butter. The total weight becomes 60 grams, and the total cocoa mass (cocoa + butter) becomes 45 grams. The technical percentage is now 45/60 or 75%. 

Here's the catch: 

While the math shows a higher percentage, the extra cocoa butter doesn't add any flavour. In reality, this 75% dark chocolate only contains the equivalent of 35 grams of pure chocolaty flavour, the same as the 70% recipe. The extra butter dilutes the flavour, making it equivalent to a pure 58% dark chocolate. This change might be done for various reasons, like adjusting the viscosity or softening the flavour to appeal to customers. 

So, how can you be sure about the taste of your dark chocolate? 

The simple way is to stick to buying PURE chocolate made from scratch without artificial additives. The percentage of this chocolate will always reflect the natural flavour of a 50/50 ratio of solids to butter, as we do at K’KAO. 

Understanding dark chocolate percentage enhances the pleasure of indulging in this fantastic treat. When browsing for dark chocolate, look for pure, unadulterated chocolate with a natural cocoa ratio to experience the rich, full chocolaty flavour of cacao every time. Happy chocolate tasting!