A Cacao Percentage Primer
The cocoa percentage of a couverture indicates what percentage of the weight of the chocolate comes from cocoa beans: chocolate liquor (also known as cocoa mass or paste), cocoa butter, and cacao solids. The remaining weight of the chocolate can include sugar, vanilla, and lecithin.
FDA standards for chocolate labeled “semi-sweet” or “bittersweet” require only that these chocolates have a minimum cocoa percentage of 35%. These outdated standards do not reflect the preferences of modern consumers. While the definition of terms like “extra-bitter” will vary among manufacturers, high-quality couvertures have high standards and will almost always include the cocoa percentage on the product label.
For the real story, look for what portion of the cocoa percentage includes fat (from cocoa butter and, sometimes, milk solids). This is will help you understand the best use of the chocolate and can even give you some hints about the intensity of the chocolate’s flavor.
There are other important factors that determine a couverture’s flavor: where the chocolate comes from and how it is processed have just as much impact on flavor as cacao percentage.
Here are some of our favorite high-percentage couvertures:
Cacao Barry® Mexique 66% Couverture
After a slightly sourish initial taste, this Mexico Origin dark couverture chocolate with its high cocoa content releases spicy and woody notes, with a hint of licorice.
Cacao Barry® Tanzanie 75% Couverture
This Tanzania Origin dark couverture chocolate is the perfect balance of acidity and intense cocoa bitterness, lifted by floral notes.
Cacao Barry® Extra-Bitter Guayaquil Couverture
This bitter dark couverture chocolate with roasted notes has a powerful cocoa flavor delicately lifted with a hint of coffee and chestnut.
*National Confectioners Association Study, 2019