If you’re a chocoholic but want to start making healthier choices, you may consider indulging in some of the best dark chocolate. Unlike its sweeter cousins — dark chocolate has a high cacao content — that studies show is beneficial for your body and mind. But nutritionists agree that doesn’t give you a free pass to scarf down all the dark chocolate bars you want. Remember, eating dark chocolate in moderation can strike a balance between your sweet tooth and your waistline.
Researchers at Loma Linda University have found a reason to love dark chocolate even more – calling it a superfood. They discovered eating bars with at least 70 percent cacao can help reduce stress and inflammation — while boosting your mood, memory, and immune system. No wonder eating dark chocolate makes us feel better!!
The amount of cacao in a dark chocolate bar can change its flavor profile, sweetness, and texture. Bars with higher counts have more flavonoids and less sugar. These bars tend to be bitter, while those with lower counts are sweeter and more appealing to those used to eating milk chocolate. Experts say the bars with 70 percent cacao strike a good balance between taste and health benefits.
🍫 What do cocoa percentages mean?
- 50-69% Cacao: These chocolates are a good starting point for those transitioning from milk to dark chocolate. They still offer a sweeter taste but don’t have all the health benefits of even darker chocolate.
- 70-85% Cacao: These are often preferred by those who enjoy the rich, authentic taste of cocoa with minimal sugar.
- 85% Cacao and above: These have a very high cocoa content and are much more bitter. They offer the best health benefits but do take some getting used to.
While the amount of cacao in a bar can change its flavor, the bar’s brand can also make a big difference. Choosing a premium brand can transform your experience, offering a rich, nuanced flavor that other varieties simply can’t match. Which dark chocolate brands get the most thumbs up from chocolate experts? We’ve come up with a list of the best dark chocolate based on expert opinions across seven foodie websites. Do you agree? Let us know below.
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The List: Best Dark Chocolate Bars, According to Foodies
Godiva is one of the most recognizable and well-respected names in the world of chocolate, so it’s no surprise it has ended up on the top of our list. It earned the #1 ranking by tasters at The Daily Meal, who called both the outer hard chocolate shell and the inner soft ganache “perfection.” It’s hard to argue with that!
These three ounce treats boast 72 percent cacao, better than the 70 percent most often recommended by nutritionists. The Spruce Eats says they are the perfect size for a “quick, decadent” treat. If you aren’t a chocolate ganache fan, they come in other flavors like hazelnut.
If you have no willpower and can’t put a whole bar down without eating the whole thing, you may want to try the Godiva 72 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate bar, which has some neat packaging. Instead of opening up a full bar, this one is designed with individual sticks of chocolate, so you can choose one small stick at a time. Genius! According to Sporked, the bar not only helps people who can’t control themselves, but it ranks very high for its “fruity, nutty and slightly roasted flavor.”
Ghirardelli is synonymous with premium quality chocolate. As one of the oldest and most respected brands in America, it never disappoints, as in the case here. The Daily Meal says the Intense Dark Bar with 72 percent Cacao has hints of “mocha, blackberry, and dark cherry” and all the flavors blend nicely together. The website admits the chocolate was on the bitter side, something expected with the higher cacao count.
If you want a small, bite-sized treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, The Spruce Eats recommends the Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Variety Pack. These aren’t full-size bars, but large wrapped square pieces that are similar to the samples they hand out in the company stores. Another good thing? They come in three different versions to satisfy many tastebuds: 60%, 72%, and one with sea salt and almonds.
If you truly are a dark chocolate connoisseur the squares with the blue label are for you. Delish says these intense bites with 86% cacao are not for the “casual chocolate eater.” They are individually wrapped, so you can enjoy them in small doses.
These bars are great if you have food allergies because they are certified to be free of the top eight allergens – including soy and tree nuts. Food and Wine reports the 85% bar is a “five-star experience” with both earthy and fruity notes, that will please any diehard chocolate lover.
With only four grams of sugar, you could make a case for eating a whole bar at once! According to Eating Well, the company doesn’t use any fillers, opting for cocoa butter for the creamy texture. The brand also sources its beans from the Peruvian Andes instead of the Amazon rainforest.
These bars range anywhere from 55-100% Cacao. Not sure I want to try the 100% one! Healthy Eater loves this brand because the bars are not Dutch-processed, meaning the cocoa powder is not treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and reduce its acidity.
If you like a bar of sweeter dark chocolate, you’ll enjoy these bars that come in a range of 70% cacao flavors, such as chocolate-covered nuts and chocolate-covered berries. Like Pascha bars, they are not Dutch-processed. Healthy Eater says they are dairy-free and contain no sugar alcohols or emulsifiers.
If you like a bunch of salt with your chocolate, you’ll love the HU Salty dark chocolate bars. Sporked says “salt permeates” every bite and you’ll “go to heaven” as soon as you bite into the bar. It also gets high marks for being vegan, paleo, fair trade, and non-GMO.
Dark chocolate from this Swiss company that’s been making chocolate since 1845 rounds out our top five. The Daily Meall was surprised it ended up on their list and I was too. However, the website said the fruity notes are what pushed the 85% Cocoa Excellence bar into “magical” territory.
If you like dark chocolate on the sweeter end, Sporked can’t get enough of the company’s Intense Orange Dark Chocolate bar. There are real bits of dried orange throughout the bar! The website’s Justine Sterling says, “It’s the best-tasting dark chocolate if you love citrus.”
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.