It’s easy to love dark chocolate. First, consider the flavor. Chocolate connoisseurs can taste unique floral, fruity, spicy, and caramel notes in dark chocolate from single origins or in blends. Second, dark chocolate is healthier for us than other types of chocolate since it contains higher amounts of cacao and lower amounts of sugar and dairy. Clinical trials have also proven that dark chocolate is high in flavanols and can help lower blood pressure.
So, how do we define dark chocolate and how is it different from milk chocolate? According to Harvard School of Public Health, “dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar.” The amount of sugar, cocoa, and cocoa butter can vary dramatically from brand to brand, but it is the lack of milk that really distinguishes dark chocolate from milk chocolate. Dark chocolates also often include vanilla and an emulsifier, to keep the chocolate as smooth as possible.
If you would like to sample different dark chocolate brands, visit the Make Mine Fine online market, which lists over 80 different fine chocolate companies who sell directly to consumers. You may also wish to view the International Chocolate Awards 2021 listings of companies and organizations that make superior chocolate products.
The Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) has chosen the month of August 2021 to celebrate dark chocolate. We are pleased to feature FCIA company members Mindo Chocolate and Ór Dubh Chocolates, who will be sharing information on their dark chocolate products and recipes all month.
Mark your calendar for Thursday, August 26 at noon Eastern, when we will host our monthly Chocolate Break/Giveaway on Instagram Live. This is a great opportunity for you to meet representatives from Mindo and Ór Dubh, and learn about their businesses and approach to chocolate. We’ll also announce the winners of our monthly chocolate giveaway during Chocolate Break. You will not want to miss this!
In the meantime, we will be posting about these companies throughout the month — follow Make Mine Fine on Instagram and Facebook, and FCIA on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to learn more.
What is your favorite dark chocolate and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post.
Enter the Chocolate Break Giveaway
To enter the giveaway:
- Like our #ChocolateBreak post on Instagram
- Follow @makeminefine @or_dubh @mindo_chocolate
- Tag 3 friends in the comments of our Instagram post who will also win a special chocolate delivery
Note that the prizes will be shipped only to US mailing addresses.
This giveaway is not associated with, sponsored by, or otherwise connected with Instagram.
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This Month’s Featured Companies
Ór Dubh Chocolates
Inspired by the craft of chocolate making, Gilroy, California residents Trish and Michael O’Dwyer founded Ór Dubh Chocolates in 2015. Trish and Michael handcraft visually beautiful and uniquely flavored soft-center bonbons and
In 2007, the O’Dwyers left their home in Ireland for a fresh start in the United States. In search of a new career after raising two kids and working with small start-ups, Trish enrolled in culinary school to perfect her pastry-making skills. After taking the chocolate module of a pastry class, Trish discovered that she is happiest when she’s covered with chocolate.
Ór Dubh (pronounced Or Duv) and the symbol next to it harken back to Trish and Michael’s Irish roots – the symbol is from an ancient Celtic alphabet called Ogham. The symbol and Ór Dubh mean black gold.
Trish loves both the science and the art of chocolate-making. To create chocolate, everything must be in perfect balance, or be in ‘temper’ (the right temperature). Done properly, it’s magical.
Mindo’s chocolate making adventure began with a trip to visit Ecuador. There, Mindo Chocolate founders, Barbara and José, fell in love with the tiny town of Mindo. Mindo is located about two hours from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Surrounded by protected Cloud Forest, it is a lush and biodiverse area where more bird species than just about anywhere on earth. In 2008, they bought a plot of land in Mindo with a plan to build a winter home.
Even though they had stepped out of the day-day operations of their Michigan-based business. They still wanted to stay in contact with it via the internet. But there was a problem: it was not cheap to get Internet access in the middle of the Cloud Forest, in the middle of the mountains, in the middle of Ecuador. Go figure.
So the two entrepreneurs opened an internet cafe to offset the cost of internet access. They began roasting and serving locally grown coffee in the café and Barbara made brownies that were really good. Really, really good. So good that tourists who tried them would beg to have them shipped to places as far as Belgium. Now there was another problem: Barbara could not find quality chocolate In Ecuador. So on trips back and forth from Michigan, she would pack a few pounds of chocolate into her suitcase. Ridiculous. right? Barbara thought so, too, and decided to do something about it. She started learning all about chocolate and learning why she couldn’t find the best chocolate in a country that is known for having the best cocoa in the world. In fact, Ecuador is where cocoa and chocolate originated.
Making chocolate started with a 53 lb bag of cocoa beans (what seemed like a massive amount at the time) and a tabletop juicer. It resulted in a rustic-style chocolate, a primitive first batch that led to many, many more. Things sort of snowballed from there – the homemade chocolate took on a life of its own. Barbara and José devoted more and more time to cacao processing. They searched for native, fine-flavor Nacional variety of cacao grown in an environmentally friendly way. On their property, they set up facilities that allowed them to ferment, dry. roast, and winnow cacao.
Mindo has always been welcoming and open with information to anybody who wants to make chocolate on their own. Education about chocolate remains at the core of Mindo Chocolate Makers — from daily tours at their Ecuador facility, Chocolate Making Experiences in the Dexter location, to week-long intensive chocolate making courses.