Almost every one of us loves chocolate. There are endless varieties of it. We can find chocolate in every grocery store, even gas stations, and some clothing stores sell chocolate as well. That means it is a profitable market, right? Well, like with many other things in our world, this is precisely the problem. Profitability often does not go well with quality. Even chocolates on the expensive side, such as the fancy ones we like to buy for loved ones on special occasions, are not exempt. Have you ever read the ingredients list of your favorite “chocolate”? If yes, you might know that some brands do not contain real chocolate. That’s right, there isn’t any cocoa powder or cocoa butter in them, both essential ingredients that high-quality chocolate should contain.
Accustomed to buying chocolate in Germany and other European countries for most of my life, I started looking for chocolate in the United States after moving here. I wanted to find my new favorite brand, as the European brands I was used to are not available in the US. So I went from store to store, reading all the ingredients lists like I always do. To my surprise, I could not find a store brand that was free of ingredients I would not want to consume. There are plenty of brands that list corn syrup as the first ingredient, others just have “chocolate flavor” but you will not find cocoa or cocoa butter on the list. Often, the fat in the chocolate comes from cheap palm kernel oil or/and soy lecithin, which is a byproduct that is easily and cheaply derived from soybean oil manufacturing. The reason for adding soy lecithin to chocolate is to lower the viscosity and to give it a more workable consistency. In return, it becomes easier to temper and mold. This can be achieved by adding cocoa butter, which is by far more expensive.
I will not go into detail about palm kernel oil and its impact on our planet through deforestation, and the extinction of wildlife. It is just something I avoid, which is not an easy task sometimes as it is in so many products. Other ingredients which should not even be on the list of fine quality chocolates are High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Trans Fat GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), Artificial Colors, Growth Hormones (found in cheap dairy products that also are an ingredient in most store brand chocolate products), and Artificial Flavors.
The good news is that there are brands on the market that are delicious, without scary ingredients and even vegan. I tried some of them, they are fantastic. But the one I like the most is still the one I make from scratch with the ingredients I want. Like the chocolate, you see depicted here. It is always made from organic cocoa powder, cocoa butter, organic cane sugar, and much Love. Tempering chocolate requires some knowledge, a couple of utensils, time, and attention. In exchange, you will get a nice consistency, the shine, and “the crunch” that we hear when we bite into a piece of good chocolate or break it apart. Also, non-tempered chocolate melts very quickly. It will literally melt in your hand while you break it off to put it in your mouth.
Chocolate is like good wine. When eating good chocolate, we treat ourselves. Who would want to treat themselves with bad quality?