The great cocoa solids conspiracy

Cocoa PodLots of fuss is made these days about the amount of cocoa ‘solids’ in your chocolate. Chefs bang on about 40% this and 85% that until frankly you’re wondering why some macho idiot hasn’t brought out a 100% cocoa bar just for the sake of it. Interestingly enough, that significant little percentage is hiding a lot more than it’s revealing. You see, cocoa ‘solids’ aren’t just one thing – they are in fact made up of cocoa butter (the stuff you rub into your skin to make it feel soft), and cocoa ‘mass’ (where the flavour is). Your 70% cocoa bar can have that 70% made up of any ratio of fat to cocoa mass, be it 50/50 or 90/10. Anyone who has taken a surreptitious lick of their arm when smeared with Bodyshop body butter (you know you have – don’t lie!) knows that cocoa butter may smell delicious but tastes of nowt, so this explains why some posh chocolates proudly boasting their cocoa content can taste as insipid as your budget supermarket choccie.

And incidentally, on a personal note, I have tested hundreds of chocolate recipes in the past few months. 85% cocoa solids chocolate is pointless in a brownie, cookie or cake. Stick to your 50-65% and it will taste much, much nicer.

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5 thoughts on “The great cocoa solids conspiracy

  1. Would you use a lesser percentage for Nigella’s Chocohotopots from her Feast book? As it’s rather rich anyway, would a lower percentage not result in it being more sickly?

    1. Nigella has sensibly recommended 60% cocoa solids for the chocohotopots which I think sounds about right, especially as you say, its already rich, plus there’s the white chocolate which is super-sweet.

  2. My concern isn’t so much that you’ve licked your arm after using cocoa butter, but that you know what a newt tastes like to compare to…

    1. “tastes of nowt” my dear american, not “newt”. “Nowt” is a northern English word which translates into yankeesy as ‘nothing’ 😉

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