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Chocolate's Dark Secret

From religious elixir to lover's treat to health food? The new truth about chocolate.
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A small portion of about an ounce should satisfy your taste buds -- especially if you eat it slowly -- and provide chocolate's health benefits without widening your waistline.

Here's an example. A standard-sized bar of Hershey's Dark Chocolate has 531 calories, compared with 150 calories from an ounce of dark chocolate or about six Hershey's Kisses.

Q: Why do some chocolates tout the percent of cocoa on the label?

A: The greater the percentage of cocoa, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. Most milk chocolate contains up to 50% cocoa, while some inexpensive chocolates contain as little as 7% cocoa. Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa for the finest dark chocolate rich in healthy flavonoids.

Q:What is the difference in the calories in cocoa, baking chocolate, and chocolate candy?

A: Most chocolate we eat today is a combination of cocoa solids, fats, sugar, and, in the case of milk chocolate, milk. Here's the scoop on fat and calories:

  • Pure cocoa powder: (2 tablespoons): 40 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat
  • Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce):140 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat.
  • Semisweet or milk chocolate (1 ounce): 135 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat.
  • Dark chocolate (1 ounce): 142 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.

Q: What is the difference between cocoa powder, baking chocolate, dark, milk, and white chocolate?

A: It all boils down to how chocolate is made. Cocoa beans are roasted, graded, and ground to make a chocolate liquor, which also contains cocoa butter.

  • Unsweetened baking chocolate is chocolate liquor that's been solidified and pressed.
  • Cocoa powder is cocoa butter removed from chocolate liquor and dried into cocoa powder.
  • Dark chocolate is a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, and sometimes vanilla.
  • Milk chocolate is made by adding milk or milk powder to the dark chocolate formula.
  • White chocolate contains sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla. It has no chocolate liquor.

Emulsifying agents are usually added to chocolate candy to give it a smooth texture and mouth feel. More expensive chocolates are processed longer to enhance the mouth feel.

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