Dark chocolate is a catch-all term for chocolate containing more than 35% cocoa. Dark chocolate is often divided into bittersweet and semisweet categories, although the distinctions between the two are loose and usually determined by the individual maker.
Dark chocolate is considered a superfood and rich in antioxidants and other nutritional benefits. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, dark chocolate contains compounds called flavanols that are associated with better blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and overall heart health. Healthline reports that dark chocolate is incredibly nutritious, with high levels of soluble fiber and vital minerals like iron, copper and magnesium.
When buying chocolate to use in your recipes, it’s important to pay more attention to the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate than what the manufacturer has decided to mark their product with. Dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate are more often used as marketing terms that can describe a wide range of products containing 35% to 90% cocoa. Instead, remember that the higher the cocoa percentage in your chocolate, the less sugar and fat it will contain, and the more bitter and crumbly it will be.
Dark chocolate is the most versatile type of chocolate to have in your pantry. It is used in everything from cakes and cookies to pies, mousses and ganaches. Quality dark chocolate can be expensive, but it’s one of those ingredients that you often get what you pay for.