Wednesday, July 25, 2012

4 Best Dark Chocolate Steals

I'm a chocoholic and could eat chocolate all day long. Unfortunately, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate candies cause weight gain. Also, I gave up sweets 3 weeks ago.

I do, however, eat one square (10 - 12 grams) of dark chocolate (≥90% cocoa) every day. It's good for me and helps curb my chocolate craving. And because I eat small amounts, less than 62 calories of chocolate a day, I'm not too worried.

Many of my friends think that 90+% is too bitter to eat. I used to think this, but I've found that with tenacity and patience, it can be easy to enjoy extremely dark chocolate. Eating the highest percentage you're able to handle and working up seems to be a good way to get to 90+%. Seventy percent used to be the highest I could enjoy. This is no longer the case. Also, it's really easy to binge on 70%, but nearly impossible to binge on extremely dark chocolate, which is another good reason to go dark.

I've comprised the following list of my top dark chocolates based on price, quality, availability, taste, and nutrition. 

Less than a gram of sugar per square

1. Lindt Excellence - 90% Cocoa

  • $2.79  for 3.5 oz bar at World Market. Comes out to about 80 cents per oz
  • Each serving (4 squares, 40 grams) contains 240 calories, 22 grams fat, 12 grams carbs (5 grams fiber and 3 grams sugar).
    • The sugar content is so low, especially if you only consume one square (1/4 of a serving, less than a gram of sugar).
  • Tastes delicious and is available at most large grocery stores - though I have found that the other grocery stores (Ralphs, Vons, Target, etc.) have higher prices than World Market).

2. Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie - 86% Cacao

1.25 grams of sugar per square

  • $3.29 for a 3.17 oz bar at World Market. This is more expensive than Lindt and World Market brands, but Ghirardelli is a well-known brand and makes quality chocolate. It comes out to $1.04/oz.
  • Each serving (4 squares, 45 grams) contains 250 calories, 25 grams fat, 15 grams carbs (5 grams fiber and 5 grams sugar).
    • Very similar nutritional breakdown compared to Lindt 90%, but with a bit more sugar. 
  • More expensive than Lindt and World Market brand, but some may prefer this because of preference in brand. Like Lindt, it's available in most grocery stores. 
Quarter of a gram of sugar 
per square (couldn't find 
picture of 99%)

3. World Market Dark Chocolate - 99% Cacao

  • $1.99 for 3 oz bar at Cost Plus World Market. At 66 cents per oz, this is the best deal I've found
    • Most economical choice of the ones listed as well as the healthiest (most fiber and least amount of sugar). 
  • Each serving (4 squares, 43 grams) contains 210 calories, 22 grams fat, 14 grams carbs (7 grams fiber and 1 gram sugar).
    • Lowest sugar content of all the ones I've listed. Sure, Ghiradelli's 100% bar may be healthier, but I have found that that 1% difference really helps curb the intense bitterness of the dark chocolate. 
  • This is delicious, but beware to those who aren't ready for something this dark. I'm still not completely there. I toggle between this and Lindt's 90%. I tried Ghiradelli's 100% about a month ago and found it to be too bitter for my taste - I may change my mind in the future. 
1.25 grams of sugar 
per squre

4. Valrhona Noir Extra Amer – 85% Cacao

  • $2.99 for a 3.5 oz bar at Trader Joes. This comes out to 85 cents per oz
  • Each serving (4 squares, 40 grams) contains 230 calores, 19 grams fat, 8 grams carbs (6 grams fiber and 5 grams sugar).
    • This has a better nutritional breakdown than the Ghiradelli 86% and a bit cheaper. However, it doesn't compare to the Lindt 90% or the WM 99%. But if you can't handle the latter two, I'd recommend this bar over Ghiradelli. I think Ghiradelli may be a bit smoother, but not enough to make up for the price and nutritional differences. 

Some other dark chocolates that I enjoy are made by Sacred Chocolate, but they are too pricy to eat regularly and also not as widely available as the chocolates I listed above. If you think the above chocolates may be a bit too bitter, I'd recommend checking out Mark's Daily Apple's post on this matter. While I do enjoy all the chocolates he listed, I think that many of them contain too much sugar (Scharffen Berger Extra Dark – 82% Cacao contains 8 grams of sugar per serving, for example) and are more expensive than the chocolates I listed.