During my journey into beans to bar, I noticed that the dark chocolate I made is different not only in taste and aroma but in colour as well. Above is a photo showing two 72% cacao dark chocolates. On the left is an international famous brand 72% dark chocolate and on the right is a beans to bar 72% dark chocolate. But why is the colour appearance so much different despite same cacao content? Well…most or all commercial chocolates in the market add alkalised cocoa powder (in the case of dark chocolates), cocoa liquor (mass) and cocoa butter.
Dutch process or alkalized cocoa is chemically processed to reduce the acidity and harshness of natural cocoa. By doing so, alkalising alters the flavor of the cocoa and darkens the color, making it appear to be more chocolatey. Dutching or alkalising are industrial processes to make the cocoa powder appear darker or dark reddish and mellow down the bitterness of natural cacao. It is clear that the darker appearance of commercial chocolates are chemically induced…certainly not natural. Recent studies have shown that heavy dutching can result in the loss of up to 90% of the antioxidants in cacao. Cacao are light brown in colour in nature and only slightly darkens after roasting. The question is why do industries use such processes? It is to develop a consistency of taste & appearance in their products and add more varieties. Well, unlike handcrafted chocolates, the main ingredients they use includes cocoa liquor (mass), cocoa powder, cocoa butter…etc. While cocoa butter is colourless, it is the cocoa liquor (mass) and cocoa powder that gives the chocolate its brownish colour.
Unlike single origin ingredients, the cocoa liquor (mass) and cocoa powder ingredients from big manufacturers are mixed with beans of different origin often to achieve the desired cost and flavour. Therefore, the darker the appearance doesn’t mean it is healthier nor does it mean it has higher cacao content.