What Is The Chemistry Of Chocolate
(And How Do They Contribute to Flavor?)
The chemistry of chocolate goes beyond fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Chocolate contains hundreds of nutrients, minerals, and compounds which make it tasty, and maybe a bit addictive.
Different types of chocolate are made with slightly different ingredients, but all chocolate finds its base in cacao beans. White chocolate’s base is in only the fat of cacao beans— cocoa butter— while milk and dark chocolate both use whole cacao beans in their recipes. Cocoa butter accounts for over half the weight of a cacao bean, and is made up of fatty acids, over 95% of which are oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid.
Compounds in Cocoa Solids
Chocolate also contains hundreds of chemical compounds, some of which react within the human brain to alter mood. These include:
Theobromine: Theobromine is a bitter chemical which widens the blood vessels, stimulates the heart, and acts as a mild diuretic; found in small amounts in cacao. Structurally the theobromine molecule is very similar to caffeine, and has similar effects.
Phenylethylamine: A bitter chemical which stimulates the body to make mood-altering drugs; often credited for chocolate’s uplifting effect.
Caffeine: A bitter chemical with similar structure to theobromine, with stimulant and slight anti-inflammatory properties; found in very small amounts in cacao.
Cannabinoid Receptor Activators: Chocolate contains three compounds which stimulate the production of anandamide, which binds to and activates cannabinoid receptors.
Beyond bodily and hormonal stimulants, cacao also contains salts made with metals, such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. These essential minerals may be present in small amounts, but they add up when you’re consuming chocolate with high cacao percentage.
How Do Compounds in Chocolate Contribute to Flavor?
Beyond the compounds found in cacao, it’s important to consider how the addition of sweeteners affects chocolate. Many of the compounds found in chocolate are bitter, which the brain associated with poison, making them unpleasant to eat. Sugar balances out those flavors, freeing the brain to focus on the hundreds of other compounds contributing to chocolate’s complex flavors.
Most chocolate contains a sweetener, usually some form of cane sugar, and those sugar molecules are also smoothed out and enveloped by cocoa butter during the conching process. Using a non-traditional sweetener, such as sugar alcohols or stevia powder, changes the composition and mouthfeel of the chocolate, sometimes making it taste sweeter. Erythritol in particular has a cooling effect in the mouth, which changes how you experience a chocolate’s flavor. With so many compounds in chocolate, it’s not possible for one chemical to completely dominate chocolate’s flavor more than sugar.
By far, this chocolate 🍫🍓 exceeded all of my experience - it is THAT DELICIOUS. IT IS FAR BETTER THAN ANY HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE - even commercialised chocolate. And not just the overall taste, but the company far exceeded my expectations. Major plus and strong support for the company's standard ethos. They handled my order with great care (kindly and carefully packed with fresh ice protectors to keep my order from melting - and I live in the hot state). Keep up the great work, and thank you for sharing many artisan chocolate producers and their biography. God bless you.
Bar & Cocoa is one of my favorite companies. Their chocolate is top notch, prices are generally the best around, and shipping is fast. I’ve never had an issue with an order and purchase from B&C 2-3 times per year.
I wasn't 100% sure to buy chocolate bars online, but finally after doing some research online I decided to give it chance. I'm very surprised about how the product that I bought was packed and delivered. Apart from that the products were simply amazing. A grateful experience. I'm thinking seriously in subscribe.
Packaging was perfect and quick delivery.
Ordered a few bars as part of a birthday present. Great selection to pick from and the chocolate was great.
Shop Our Popular Gifts
Award Winning Chocolate Makers
Bar & Cocoa is the premier purveyor of exceptional craft chocolates from award winning chocolate makers. We hand pick exceptional makers to feature.
Ethics is a key ingredient to the world’s best chocolate. Our selection supports a supply chain that is more transparent than fair trade and big-brand chocolate — and tastier!
Fine & Rare Origins
The chocolate we offer is crafted from fine quality cacao. You can taste the uniqueness and complexity of different cacao origins with nuanced flavors, unlike mass-produced chocolate.