Sometimes the rich, sweet flavor of milk chocolate just isn’t what will satisfy that craving. Sometimes, the taste buds want to relish in the underlying bitterness that is intrinsic to darker chocolates. And National Bittersweet Chocolate Day is the perfect day to enjoy just that!
There are certainly a lot of different types of chocolates from all around the world, but dark chocolate reigns supreme on National Bittersweet Chocolate Day.
Get ready for National Bittersweet Chocolate Day!
History of National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
The first thing to know about National Bittersweet Chocolate Day is precisely what kind of chocolate it celebrates. The most common type of chocolate in the United States is milk chocolate, synonymous with brands like Hershey’s or Ghirardelli’s most popular lines of chocolate. These are made with lots of sugar, and a healthy dose of milk, bringing about the flavor that many people know and love.
But chocolate wasn’t always made that way! In fact, for many centuries, the cacao bean was used to create a hot drink that was enjoyed by the ancient Mayan people and ancient Olmec people who inhabited the southern portions of what is now Mexico. The chocolate of those times was revered and used in various celebrations and ceremonies. It would have been very bitter, sometimes sweetened with honey or spiced up with chilli peppers.
Today’s celebration of bittersweet chocolate falls in the middle of the scale between the ancient bitter chocolate drink and the milk chocolate that is popular around the world.
Bittersweet Chocolate, with one variety also known as dark chocolate, takes a unique approach. In making chocolate of the dark variety, fat and sugar are added to cocoa, without adding milk to even out the bitterness. It tends to be harder, richer, and a common ingredient in baking. And, of course, it is one of the foundational flavors in the richest of chocolate drinks, especially Mexican chocolate, which is made with a hint of Cayenne.
Real Bittersweet, however, is a lightly sweetened chocolate. Interestingly, this is the kind of chocolate most commonly used in baking, including the American Favorite, chocolate chip cookies.
How to Celebrate National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
This is a fun day to celebrate, whether alone or with a group of friends. Keep it simple with a chocolate bar, or make a big deal out of it by throwing a party in honor of the day! In any case, this is a day that is easy to celebrate. Try out some of these ideas:
Enjoy a Bittersweet Chocolate Bar
The best way to celebrate National Bittersweet Chocolate Day is to indulge that taste for the bitter side of things by picking up a bar of bittersweet chocolate to enjoy. The great thing about it is that the flavor is often so strong that just a little bit goes a long way!
Not sure what qualifies as bittersweet chocolate? Well, the rules might be a bit fuzzy when distinguishing between categories. But the general guideline is that, in order to qualify as bittersweet, dark or semisweet, chocolate must contain at least 35% cacao and less than 12% milk solids. However, today, many gourmet dark chocolate brands are putting out chocolate bars that are running in the 70% or even higher.
Single-origin chocolate bars are all the rage now, so sample some from a few different regions around the world and see which is best!
Learn About the Health Benefits of Bittersweet Chocolate
In recent years, it has come to the attention of healthy people that chocolate can actually be healthy. Sure, the sugary-sweet versions that are packed with milk solids are not very good for the body, but don’t blame the chocolate! The actual chocolate itself can be very nutritious when consumed in moderation, with health benefits including:
- Nutritional Value. Dark chocolate contains fiber, iron, copper, magnesium and manganese.
- Beneficial for Lowering Bad Cholesterol. Bittersweet chocolate may have the ability to lower bad cholesterol, which may actually have benefits to heart health and be able to reduce the risk of heart disease.
- High in Antioxidants. Fighting off free radicals, a little bit of low-sugar dark chocolate in the diet each day may be able to clean up the body of destructive, age-inducing, cancer-causing cells,
- Contains Flavonols. This substance may help to relax the arteries which, in turn, helps with improved blood flow and perhaps even lowers blood pressure in certain people.
Make Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies
For those who are fans of the chocolate chip cookie (and who isn’t?!), this is a great time to score a bag of the bittersweet variety (less sweet than semisweet) and mix up a fantastic batch for eating on your own or sharing with friends and family. Many astute bakers feel that the best chocolate chip cookies are made with walnuts included, which really serves to bring the flavor together.
Try out this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies that includes bittersweet chocolate:
- 10 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup + 3 tbsp packed light brown sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 egg
- 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, get 70% if you can find it!
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and heat it until it begins to create a light foam and take on a nutty smell, that’s when you need to stir in the vanilla extract! Take the heat off, and let it cool for 10 minutes.
While it’s cooling, combine the dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl, pour in the butter mixture, add in the egg and mix it up a few moments, and mix in the chocolate, and mix until it’s all evenly mixed.
Start scooping out ¼ cup scoops of the cookies onto a cookie sheet, and sprinkle them with more sea salt. This next step is vital, be sure that you let them refrigerate for anywhere between 1 hour, and 3 days. The longer you let them sit, the better they’ll taste when you cook them.
When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 400 degrees, and then get them in the oven while the dough is still cool, and bake for 10 minutes! Voila! You’ll have an amazing treat that’s ready to eat!