Bitter chocolate, also known as unsweetened chocolate, contains little or no sugar. Bakers use it because the sweetness is easily adjustable by adding sugar. To find the best bitter chocolate, you need to find one that contains high levels of cacao solids and is made with quality beans.
Chocolate is made from the cacao bean, which is very bitter. Unless sugar is added, the higher the percentage of pure cacao in chocolate, the bitterer it will taste. Bitter chocolate is typically made up of 100% cacao, although some brands might contain less. If you want to ensure you find pure bitter chocolate, look on the label and check the percentage of cacao.
One of the most important aspects of bitter chocolate is the quality of the beans and the process they go through when roasted. In many instances, larger manufacturers won’t use the best quality beans for bitter chocolate because it is so often used in baking, which means other ingredients will be added to mask the flavor. If you want to be certain about the quality of the beans, you should go with a smaller manufacturer that makes smaller batches of bitter chocolate.
Cacao beans consist of cacao solids and cacao butter, which is a form of fat. The higher the percentage of cacao solids in the chocolate, the deeper the flavor of the chocolate. Most brands of bitter chocolate are 50% to 60% cocoa butter, and the less fat they have, the more cacao solids will be present, so if you want a fuller flavor, choose a bitter chocolate with higher cacao solids and less cacao butter. Check the labels for the amount of cacao solids and cacao butter, or contact the manufacturer if the label doesn’t list it.
Although it’s important that the flavor of the chocolate be strong, it’s also important that the flavor be palatable. Different brands of bitter chocolate have varying flavors, so you might need to taste the chocolate before your try it. If you don’t want to try the chocolate first, you can check for reviews in magazines or online that discuss the flavors of each brand of chocolate. Cookbooks are also a good source as well, particularly those focused on baking. Bakers can be a good source of information, as they often have access to multiple kinds of chocolate and can offer insights based on experience.