‘Fast’ chocolate contains as little as 5% cocoa, the other ingredients are usually sugar, solid hydrogenated vegetable fats, nut oils, and a host of artificial flavourings. These types of fats are hidden in so many processed foods, and it is difficult to imagine that this kind of chocolate could possibly make a positive contribution to your health. The use of any fat other than cocoa butter is to my mind unacceptable. Cocoa butter occurs naturally in cocoa beans, and it has many qualities that make it a desirable commodity in its own right. The cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries buy tonnes of the stuff every year, to make into lipsticks, creams and suppositories, for which they are happy to pay a premium. It must be sorely tempting for industrial chocolate makers to remove the cocoa butter and sell it on, substituting it with other cheap and readily available hydrogenated fats. You may ask, ‘What difference does it make anyway?’ Firstly, you can feel the difference in the mouth – these ‘trans fats’ do not melt properly and leave a greasy coating on the palate. More importantly, perhaps, some hydrogenated fats have been linked with serious health problems, whereas cocoa butter acts to lower blood cholesterol levels.
© 2003 Chantal Coady. All rights reserved.