Here’s the deal: I have a major obsession with dark chocolate, not only because it’s delicious and wildly addicting, but also because of its numerous health benefits and superfood properties.
Here’s the secret: Just because it’s chocolate (aka the main ingredient in many candy bars), doesn’t mean the chocolate itself is necessarily unhealthy like most people may think. Typically it’s the sugar, milk and/or cream that generally makes chocolate a little less healthy and can even interfere with its beneficial antioxidant absorption. If you’re aiming to eat dark chocolate for health benefits, stick to at least 70% and watch the sugar content (that’s where chocolate gets sneaky).
Since we’re talking all about dark chocolate today, I thought I’d give provide you with some of the wonderful health benefits of eating it: It’s good for your heart, may reduce stress, is a proven antioxidant, can give you a more effective workout, and probably a million more reasons. As mentioned before, dark chocolate also tends to be lower in sugar and higher in fiber than milk chocolate (assuming your getting at 70% dark chocolate). In fact, a serving of dark chocolate can have up to 5g of fiber! Major props to this superfood, right? I personally love baking with chopped dark chocolate because of the taste, beautiful look and health properties it gives treats.
Experimenting with different flavors and chocolate brands has been one of my favorite things to do over the past few months. Today I thought I would share some of my absolute favorite chocolate brands and bars with you. They are in no particular order, just a few that have been tested by my assistant and I over the past two months. We vowed to eat chocolate every night just so we can share some of our favorites with all of you. Obviously very tough job, but someone has to do it.
Enough talk, let’s get to the good stuff:
1.) Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lover’s Bar: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lovers bar is made with 85% cacao. It has a fruity profile that ensures a smooth and rich bar flavor. The chocolate is produced by Colombian farmers who work in small batches to ensure that the chocolate is of the highest quality. Why we love it: It’s wonderful for baking, inexpensive and isn’t bitter at all.
2.) Lake Champlain Creamy Coconut: Lake Champlain Chocolates are made with Belgian chocolate and all-natural ingredients from Vermont. The bars are made in small batches to ensure freshness, and contain no preservatives, extenders, or additives. Why we love it: The bars are flavorful and unique, especially the creamy coconut. It tasted like a grown up Mounds Bar, but with a creamy coconut center and much better chocolate. A few squares make a great dessert.
3.) Divine Chocolate 70% Mango & Coconut: Divine Chocolate is a Fair Trade chocolate company co-owned by 85,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana. The company is unique in that its farmers own the biggest stake in the company and share its profit. The bars are made with high quality and natural ingredients. Why we love it: One of the best chocolate bars we tried. We couldn’t stop crushing on their flavors, mission or how delicious the bars tasted. Favorite flavors include hazelnut truffle, mango coconut, almond dark chocolate and 85%. This is a great snack or dessert chocolate to eat on its own.
4.) Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Bar: Enjoy Life makes delicious allergy-friendly chocolate bars, baking chips, and various chocolate products. Every bar is produced in a nut and gluten-free facility, and is free of gluten, soy, dairy, and wheat! Why we love it: We love that nearly anyone can enjoy their chocolate. If you’re on a specific allergy sensitive diet, this chocolate is for you!
5.) Madecasse Toasted Coconut: Madecasse was founded by two Peace Corps volunteers based in Madagascar, which is where 90% of their ingredients and bars come from. The company has received extensive awards for being a pioneer of social change in the chocolate field. Why we love it: Their chocolate is unique and gives back to the community it stems from. The salted almond dark chocolate is fantastic too!
6.) Taza Chocolate Cacao Nib Crunch: Taza Chocolate bars are made from organic cacao beans turned into unrefined, minimally processed chocolate with a bold flavor and texture. They are the only producer of 100% stone ground, artisan chocolate in the US. Why we love it: The chocolate is stone ground and you can taste the difference. We love the little bits of cacao nibs in this crunchy bar. Other favorites include cherry almond.
7.) Theo Chocolate Black Rice Quinoa Crunch: Theo Chocolate was the first Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate maker in North America. The company creates high quality chocolate bars in unique and creative flavorful combinations with organic ingredients. Why we love it: Theo chocolate has some of the most unique flavors we’ve seen. The Vanilla Nib Dark Chocolate is one of our absolute favorites. Also, don’t miss out on the black rice quinoa crunch. It’s especially delicious in my coconut flour banana bread.
8.) Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Cherry Tango: Ghirardelli is America’s longest operating chocolate manufacturer, and has been making rich chocolate bars for over 150 years. They make classic, slow-melting bars that have had the same rich flavor for decades and decades. Why we love it: It adds such great flavor to cookies or brownies and tastes great in homemade ice cream. This is Tony’s favorite chocolate because of the classic sweet cherry-chocolate combo.
9.) Alter Eco Salted Brown Butter Dark Chocolate: Alter Eco bars are made exotic and sustainable ingredients. The mission of the company is to change the global chocolate world through ethical relationships with small-scale farmers, and to ensure that all products are Fair Trade Certified. Why we love it: Okay, we actually love everything about Alter Eco! Their bars are incredible and are perfect for both snacking and baking with anytime. Some favorites include the salted brown butter (try them in my brown butter cookies), and also the mint (bake brownies!).
10.) Lindt Pineapple Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar: Lindt is a classic chocolate company that has been making chocolate since 1845. The company uses high quality ingredients and raw materials in order to create the classic Lindt taste that has been enjoyed for decades. Why we love it: Lindt is amazing paired with cheese and wine. It’s a chocolate you can count on for baking, melting and eating. Some of our favorite flavors include pineapple and lime. Imagine chocolate covered pineapple pieces. SO GOOD.
11.) Equal Exchange 71% Organic Dark Chocolate: Equal Exchange chocolates are made with the purest ingredients from small farmer co-ops. All of the bars are certified Fair Trade from local farmers around the world and have the most delicious flavors. Why we love it: This was another one of Tony’s favorite. It melted so perfectly in my chocolate chunk cookies that I just had to include it.
12.) Whole Foods Organic Dark Chocolate: Whole Foods Organic chocolate bars are part of a Whole Trade line focused on cocoa farming in Tanzania. A portion of the proceeds for these chocolate bars help fund the education of children in Tanzania as well. Why we love it: This bar is delicious and wonderful for those who love a milder dark chocolate.
13.) Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Lavender Mint Creme Filled: Endangered Species bars are made with ethically traded, shade grown cacao and natural ingredients. 10% of net profits from each chocolate bar purchase are donated to support conservation efforts among endangered animals. Why we love it: Endangered Species gives back to animals and we love them for it. They also have some pretty interesting flavors including lavender dark chocolate and and blueberry vanilla dark chocolate. You must try them ASAP.
Thanks for hanging out and reading about dark chocolate benefits + our favorite ones! We hope that you enjoyed this post and might be inspired to try out some new dark chocolate.
Some questions for you:
Do you like dark, white or milk chocolate best?
If so, what’s your favorite dark chocolate you’ve tried? The AK team is always looking for new products to try.
We hope you loved this post as we work very hard to create relevant content for AK readers. Huge thanks to my assistant Rose for helping with this series!