While an excess of sugar in mainstream chocolate conceals flavour, small quantities of sugar in craft chocolate functions to add a sweet balance to the bitter flavours of cocoa.
Did you know that there are ways to do this with ingredients other than table sugar? The various substances that impart sweetness to chocolate can provide an interesting and delicious depth of flavour to a product. They are perfect for those who may want to reduce their sugar consumption, as well as for the sweet-toothed curious!
Erythritol is a sweetener with zero calories, which is derived from corn. It is 60-70% sweeter than table sugar and does not affect blood sugar or contribute to tooth decay. It normally does not cause a laxative effect, unlike other sugar alcohols like sorbitol or xylitol.
It has a sweet taste that allows the flavours of the cocoa beans to shine.
If you’re interested, try:
Maple sugar is what is left when maple sap is boiled. Because the water evaporates, maple sugar is sweeter and richer than maple syrup.
Maple sugar is composed of the same stuff as table sugar (sucrose) so should be consumed in moderation. It does contain more nutrients, including manganese, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc, but these are in trace amounts. Maple sugar’s glycaemic index is lower than that of table sugar, indicating that it may be slower at raising blood sugar.
If you’re interested in trying the warm, caramel flavour that maple sugar adds to chocolate, check these out:
Coconut sugar comes from the flower sap of the coconut palm. It is widely used in South Asian cuisine, such as in Indonesian sweet soy sauce.
Like maple sugar, it retains more nutrients than table sugar, but should still be consumed in moderation. It is comparable in sweetness to table and brown sugar and has a soft date-like flavour.
Taste the aromas of coconut sugar in these bars:
Milk is often added to chocolate in a powdered form: all the liquid is evaporated out so that the end product is milk at its most concentrated.
It accentuates the luxuriously rich flavour of chocolate, as well as offering creaminess, a counterbalance to any astringency, and a sensation of sweetness.
Milk has a natural sweetness as it contains lactose, which is a type of sugar. When milk is processed, such as by being heated or by grinding milk powder, lactose breaks down into smaller sugars (called glucose and galactose), which creates more of a sweet surface area for our taste buds to pick up on, thereby making it taste sweeter!
‘Dark milks’ take advantage of this. At Cocoa Runners, we sell a few bars that contain no added sugar at all, replacing any added sweeteners with milk powder. This results in the decadent intensity of a dark chocolate and the creaminess of a milk chocolate – try these to see what we mean:
Honey is a product of plant nectar that has been altered by bee enzymes. The enzymes break down much of the nectar’s sucrose into fructose and glucose. Honey offers essentially the same nutritional value as other simple sugars – a source of energy and little else. However, honey is around 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar, leading to a caloric decrease of 20 calories in a 2.5 oz. bar.
COMING SOON to Cocoa Runners: HoneyMoon Chocolates:
Honeymoon Chocolates is a bean-to-bar brand motivated by supporting the conservation of honeybees. The endangerment of bees is a big problem because they pollinate 70 of the 100 crops that provide 90% of food worldwide. They purchase directly from beekeepers and a portion of profits goes towards bee research.
Honey complements cocoa products with both its ethical transparency and its added complexity to flavour profiles.