Spooky Taste Test: Dark Chocolate

by in Grocery Shopping, Taste Test, October 28, 2010
Which Chocolate Won Out?

In the spirit of Halloween, we polled our Facebook fans and taste tested your favorite brands of dark chocolate. Read up on the nutrition facts and learn if your favorite dark chocolate is really a treat or just tricky marketing.

The Criteria
Tasting chocolate was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. For this taste test, we looked at taste, mouth feel and nutrition information, including calories, total fat, saturated fat, sugar and iron.  We rated each brand on a 5-point scale (5 being the highest).

As there are a wide variety of dark chocolates on the market, we tasted your most-requested brands, most of which contained between 60 to 72 percent cocoa (that’s where all the healthy antioxidants are found).

Dark chocolate can also provide a chunk of your daily dose of iron to help you avoid the most common deficiency in the country (a.k.a. iron-deficiency anemia). Did you ever think you’d be told to eat chocolate to get some iron? Life can be so hard.

Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate (71% cocoa)
Cost: $2.79/3.53 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 1.17 ounces): 200 calories; 16 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 9 grams sugar
Our Take: This chocolate had an overpowering bitterness, which you’ll find in chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa. Even the lingering aftertaste was very bitter.

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares (60% cocoa)
Cost: $0.99/0.9 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 0.9 ounces): 130 calories; 10 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 10 grams sugar
Our Take: Slightly bitter (but delicious),  this chocolate has a soft and silky consistency and flavor that lingers in the mouth—yum. The calories were the lowest in the bunch, and a serving  contains 10 percent of your daily iron recommendations.

Hershey’s Special Dark
Cost: $1.99/4.24 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 1.4 ounces): 180 calories; 12 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 19 grams sugar
Our Take: I grew up on Hershey’s Special Dark, but the consistency was much different than the other brands (less smooth) and it tasted much sweeter. In fact, it was the only bar where sugar is the first ingredient listed (yikes!) as opposed to chocolate. There is also no percentage of cocoa listed, which makes you wonder how much of the dark stuff is truly chocolate. The good news: it was significantly cheaper than the others.

Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa)
Rating: 4.5
Cost: $3.99/3.5 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 1.4 ounces): 240 calories; 17 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 12 grams sugar
Our Take: Our Facebook fans boasted about Green & Black’s (as did some of the Healthy Eats contributors). This chocolate claims to be 100 percent fair trade certified and is the only organic brand we tested. In order to get the full effects of the flavor, put the chocolate on your tongue and you can taste the intense flavors (I recently learned this from a chocolate taste test outing with my girlfriends). This brand also blew the competition out of the water with 40 percent iron per serving! The only negative: it was higher in calories than some of the other brands.

Lindt Excellence Smooth Dark (70% cocoa)
Rating: 3.5
Cost: $0.99/3.5 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 1.4 ounces): 250 calories; 19 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 12 grams sugar
Our Take: You can taste the 70 percent cocoa by the overwhelming bitterness in this brand. The texture was smooth, but the calories were the highest of the bunch.

Godiva Chocolatier Dark Chocolate (72% cocoa)
Cost: $3.79/3.5 ounce bar
Nutrition Info (per 1.4 ounces): 240 calories; 17 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 11 grams sugar
Our Take: The “darkest” of the bunch with 72% cocoa, Godiva was a must have for our taste test when one of our Facebook fan raved about it. Light and airy, this was a tasty chocolate that left all of us asking for more. But just like Green & Black’s, the calories were on the higher end.

TELL US: What’s your favorite kind of dark chocolate?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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