*Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor to which some sugar has been added (typically one-third).
*This type of chocolate has 35-99% of chocolate liquor and depending up on the percentage of cocoa present, different names are given to chocolates like bittersweet, dark, extra dark or extra bittersweet chocolate.
*The bittersweet chocolate is the favorite of many chefs and is good for baking cakes, cookies, brownies, etc.
*It has a slightly sweet taste and a strong chocolate flavor.
*Semisweet chocolate has chocolate liquor, sugar and vanilla. Sometimes soy lecithin is added to the semisweet chocolate to improve the texture.
*Sometimes bittersweet chocolate is also referred to as couverture, meaning it has at least 32% of cocoa butter.
*It is obtained from grinding the dried partially fermented seeds or beans of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, when the fat (called cocoa butter) in the seeds melts and produces a liquid chocolate called chocolate liquor, and then adding sugar to the chocolate liquor.
*The bittersweet chocolate also has all the antioxidants, flavonoids and other phytonutrients that are beneficial for the health.
*It is used for baking purposes, making other types of sweet chocolates, etc.
*Buying and storage: Buy good quality bittersweet chocolate in small amounts required. Wrap tightly in a foil or paper and store in a cool, dry, dark place, as it will easily absorb other strong flavors that are around.
Is it raw?
No, bittersweet chocolate is made by adding sugar to chocolate liquor. Make sure you read the label.
1. Bittersweet chocolate has the high amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids in all forms of chocolates.
2. Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals, preserve the integrity of cell membranes and reduce the risk of heart diseases, inflammatory and degenerative diseases.
3. The beneficial cardiovascular effects are lowering the LDL cholesterol level in the blood, reducing the risk of heart attack and atherosclerosis, and promoting a healthy heart.
4. It can also lower and maintain the blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of hypertension, due to the flavonoids in bittersweet chocolate having a vasodilating effect.
5. The flavonoids, epicatechin and gallic acid, have anti-carcinogenic properties, which are still being studied.
6. Research indicated that theobromine, the alkaloid present in unsweetened dark chocolate, may be effective in preventing persistent coughing, soothing and moistening the throat. It is shown to be more effective than codeine, the component in many cough medicines.
7. Good source of Tryptophan, an essential amino acid present, which is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the modulation of anger, mood, sleep, sexuality, appetite, etc. This amino acid, relaxes the mood, improves the quality of sleep and appetite.
8. Good source of Phenethylamine, an alkaloid, which acts as a stimulant and is sometimes described as a ‘love chemical’.
9. Moderate source of B-group vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and folic acid that are essential to enhance the energy production from the foods.
10. Very good source of magnesium that helps in relieving fatigue, relaxing the muscles, nerves and blood vessels, thus relieving the symptoms of asthma, migraine headaches, tension and soreness in muscles etc.
11. Very good source of potassium, this along with low amount of sodium helps to maintain blood pressure, reduces water retention, helps transmit nerve impulses to muscles, and improves muscle contraction.
12. Good source of other minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and manganese, which play a very important role in maintaining normal metabolic activities of the body.
13. Cocoa also has moderate amounts of protein and dietary fiber.
14. Dietary fiber, though present in moderate amounts, adds roughage to the contents of the intestines, promotes satiety, promotes the health of the colon, and also helps in relieving constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disorders, etc. It also reduces the risk for colon cancer.
15. Though bittersweet chocolate has many useful antioxidants and flavonoids in them, regular consumption in large quantities may result in weight gain. As with all other foods, moderation is the key.