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Help me learn to like dark chocolate

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  • Aimee Mar 1, 2007 04:07 AM
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I really prefer milk but I'm trying to make the switch. Any mild, "starter" dark chocolate out there? Thanks.

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  1. Head to a nice chocolate shop and tell them what you're doing. They ought to be able to select a few pieces that would fit the bill. It might help to begin with filled candies. A sweet, creamy filling with a dark coating could help ease you in. Also, a good accompaniment might help. I love to eat dark chocolate with fresh oranges. Perhaps a strawberry dipped in dark would be good?
    Good luck and welcome to the dark side. .)

    1. Lindt Excellence are great bars to start with. They make a 70% cocoa which is a great starting point for you. It's not bitter at all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: C70

        i second the Lindt recommendation.

      2. I hate to hear people "trying" to like something. There's nothing inherently bad about milk chocolate. That said, i have two suggestions. Look not just at the percentage, but the sugar content in grams on the nutrition facts on the back. You'll probably like them sweeter. More important than what you eat is how you eat it. Take a piece and concentrate on it and the flavors, if you don't find something you like, then don't bother... save the money and calories and go buy a beer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: amkirkland

          amkirk, i agree with your "Take a piece and concentrate"-philosophy but then again, sometimes we want something we can gorge on. at least, I do. sometimes theres just nothing like devouring an entire chocolate bar. now, if you are indeed going to do this (which, granted, is not something to be done regularly:) you would be FAR better off gorging on a 70% dark chocolate that only has 4-6 grams of carbohydrates in each of the usual two-per-bar serving than a hersheys milk chocolate that can pack as much as 20 grams in each serving. there IS a huge difference.

        2. Dagoba is widely available and pretty good. But as above, don't force it - what I look for in chocolate is intense chocolate flavor and good mouthfeel - a little goes a long way.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tdo ca

            i too like dagoba stuff. i used to dig on the xocatle (sp?) bar but now i go for the intensely dark eclipse bar. i do NOT rec the eclipse for most. try one of their others.

            1. re: ben61820

              The New Moon bar from Dagoba would be a good choice, I think. In fact, I'm going to have some right now....

              Uncle Ira

          2. I tend to really like the special ones you can find in cheese shops or gourmet places.
            They tend to be made either with nuts, caramel, fruit or peppers.

            Oh it's SO good.

            1. I don't know how you generally consume your milk chocolate, but one way to better appreciate dark chocolate is to eat it very s-l-o-w-l-y and in very tiny pieces so you get to savor every bite.

              I tend to find people eating larger amounts of white and milk chocolate in each bite because they tend to be sweeter and milder. If you consume the same quantity of dark chocolate as you do of milk chocolate in each bite, you might get easily overwhelmed with the bitterness. Just a thought.

              1. I don't know if this helps or not, but I found my appreciation for dark chocolate increased when I stopped putting sugar in my coffee...could be coincidental, tho.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ricepad

                  there's definitely a process of learning to enjoy foods less sweet invovled in both of those. Also, learning to appreciate bitter compounds. it's a different topic, but i can barely stand cereals anymore cause they're so sweet.

                2. Starter dark--those little Dove dark pieces. It has the mouthfeel of milk. My kids started with it, loved it and now eat any kind of dark chocolate, Green and Black, Dagoba, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    agreed, though i was afraid i might get excommunicated for saying it! just not hershey's dark.

                  2. Think of light to dark as a spectrum and don't start on the far end of the spectrum.

                    To me, this means experimenting with dark chocolate that wraps around a ganache that lightens up the dark intensity.

                    Depending on where you are, some of the artisanal chocolatiers are doing very nice things and I agree with the recommendation to go into a small chocolate shop and experiment a bit.

                    1. How about savoring a nice (not big) piece of high-end dark chocolate with a glass of your favorite cabernet? I absolutely love the interplay of flavors. The idea of pairing the chocolate with strawberries or an orange is good as well.

                      1. I agree with the idea of starting with dark chocolate filled with something. I especially love dark chocolate filled with a raspberry filling, or anything similar to that. In Switzerland I found dark chocolate filled with a pepper/cherry filling...that was interesting!

                        1. Learn about chocolate. What defines it as "chocolate." This has to do with ingredients and refers to both milk and dark. It's about content of cocoa (%) and cocoa fat. Many supermarket shelf brands substitute cocoa butter with a non-cocoa fat. Do a mini-tasting for yourself along a spectrum of cocoa content (Try a 33% 50% 70% for example) As others have said, focus on taste and mouthfeel. Don't be afraid to try some "higher end" brands (Scharffen Berger and Valrhona.) You'll notice a huge difference from Hershey's.

                          You might like it paired with other things ... so the accompaniment can come in the form of a chocolate with something inside of it (dark chocolate with caramel or truffle filling) or as others have suggested an orange ... some strawberries...a ripe pear. If you break off a small block or two, melt them, drizzle the warm chocolate over a bowl of strawberries. Then wait some time to let it cool off again and harden around the stranberry (you can speed this up by sticking it in the fridge or freezer quickly. The taste is pure heaven. You'll start to see the value of dark (you can still love milk, it's just different and is more like "candy" or "confection" than the pure flavor of chocolate).

                          Good luck!

                          1. I think I've ended up liking certain foods eventually when they were paired with something else that piqued the flavor. As for dark chocolate, you could absolutely hate it and eat a Goldeberg's Peanut Chew and you would love it...give it a try.

                            1. My mom is a milk chocolate lover, and she prefers the dark chocolates that are in the 55-60% cacao content range, than the 70% ones. I would slowly work from that range upward, if I were you. Going directly from milk chocolate, which is usually around 30% cacao, with lots of added sugar, to any of the 70%s, regardless of their sugar content, is going to be a huge adjustment. Depending on your personality, you know better whether a gradual adjustment is preferable to going gung ho on the dark!

                              1. As someone who is just starting to really enjoy dark chocolates, I like buying the very small, individually wrapped pieces. There are good ones from Lindt, Amadei (expensive), Cafe Tasse, Green & Black's and Dofin. You can buy assortments in each brand in individually wrapped tiny squares (except Lindt) at chocosphere.com. I like dark chocolate with mint or with orange too. I got the Panache assortment of Dolfin. It has a number of interesting flavors. My next order will be the Cafe Tasse.

                                I recently went to a chocolate tasting class where most of the chocolates we sampled were Amadei. She had different chocolate percentage amounts and then we tried different single origins chocolates. It was really cool to try them back to back.

                                1. You might give Hershey' new 67% Santo Domingo Single Origin bar. It is really a smooth, inoffensive dark chocolate bar. Hersey's description ...

                                  "Rich dark chocolate with delicate red wine and spice notes"

                                  Uh ... sure ... creative copy writer. However, it is a pretty good choclate that would be a good intro.

                                  Ingrediants are Santo Domingo cacao beans, sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, vanilla flavor, milk.

                                  I think it is the vanilla that takes the dark chocolate edge off. Three bucks for 3.5 oz.

                                  Actually though the layout is annoying, there is some useful info

                                  http://www.hersheys.com/cacaoreserve/...

                                  They have wine/chocolate pairing tips ... lighter wine with sweeter chocolate ... more assertive wine with darker chcolates. They even have a tasting notes log that can be printed off. The Santo Domingo paired very nicely with my Franzia boxed Cabernet.

                                  They define chocolate characteristics nicely. Using their suggestion for tasting the Santo Domingo ...

                                  LOOK: Glossy indicating a high tempered chocolate

                                  SMELL: Smells like chocolate Easter bunny to me ... ok ... the vanilla dominates the small

                                  SNAP (they call it listen): Crisp snap indicating high cacao content

                                  TASTE: Initial hit is sugar that transistions to a toasty coffee finish.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Thanks for all the helpful responses. The reason I've been "trying to like it" is because I suspect that if I got into it, it would be more interesting/rewarding than milkier kinds. When I eat chocolate, it's generally lindt or from the local manhattan chocolatiers (Mariebelle, kees, vosges). I have just tended to stick to the milks because I instinctively find them yummier. But it took me a while to appreciate olives, blue cheese, and black coffee - I figured dark chocolate was pretty much the same.

                                    1. re: Aimee

                                      I would say that if you have learned to like black coffee, you'll learn to like dark chocolate, and geniunely enjoy it. good luck.

                                      1. re: Aimee

                                        ah that puts another slant on things, if you really are interested in understanding the sheer bliss of SemiSweet or Bittersweet Chocolates, than definately stay away from the big commercial stuff, Hersheys Dark, Dove, and the likes, and search out the higher quality stuff, My personal prefrence is for Scharffen Berger availible in a lot of gormet grocery stores or order online http://www.scharffenberger.com you can ease yourself up from the 62% semisweet, to the 70% bittersweet, both are really good chocolates.