Chocolate Couture

posted on: Sunday, 2 February 2014

70%: Beautiful bars of Bahen & Co

85%: Alter Eco's Blackout Chocolate

99%: The Chanel of chocolate Michel Cluizel Infini

'Oh my god! They've changed the recipe!' I said, spitting the contents out of my mouth. It had been one month since I had quit sugar and my cravings had led me astray: I had bought a Bounty and a Kit Kat. But there was no joy, they suddenly tasted foul. Until it dawned on me. It was my tastebuds that had changed.

Fast forward a year and a half and I've rarely been tempted by standard supermarket chocolate bars, but in my experiments with dark, darker and darkest chocolate, I have realised that if you want low sugar AND a smooth taste, we're looking at the haute couture end of chocolate. The good news is that you can eat a small amount, with dignity, and actually taste the variations between the beans like a good coffee. Here are my picks.

Bahen & Co chocolate, based in the Margaret River, offers a great 70% cocoa Madagascar version. Like a Dior taffeta ballgown, this chocolate is surrounded by layers of the most sublime wrapping. A Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque gold wrapping is covered with a hand-designed pattern printed onto thick paper stock. They really are beautiful works of art which make getting to the smooth chocolate, which is made from just two ingredients cacao and cane sugar, a delight. If you're in Brisbane you can buy it at Sourced Grocer.

My personal favourite is the Alter Eco 85% Dark Blackout chocolate, the Stella McCartney of chocolate. Like the vegetarian fashion designer who has the strictest trading standards, this is produced from beans from a fair trade cocoa cooperative in Ecuador. The minimalist packaging lets the product shine on its own. I love it because it has hints of vanilla and berries and, for such a high percentage of cocoa, I don't find it bitter. For people on I Quit Sugar, it has 15g sugar/100g. You can buy it at Fundies Wholefood Market in Paddington, Brisbane.

The Chanel of chocolate is the French-made Michel Cluizel Noir Infini 99% chocolate. It's for die hard, dark chocolate connoisseurs and is really hard to get your hands on in Australia. When Tim Ferriss mentioned that a square of this chocolate will knock you out, I had to get it. I savoured it with Pukka Herbs cardamom and fennel seed tea. It's the pinnacle of artisan chocolate, and let's be honest, a lot less expensive than an iconic 2.55 Chanel handbag.

*By the way, there are a number of cheeky loopholes marketers are using to brand their chocolate as 'No sugar'. My mum bought a dark chocolate bar claiming to have only 3g sugar/100g, but the main ingredient was maltitol - a nasty sugar alcohol. Avoid.

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