Wednesday, April 19, 2017

East Van Roasters Offers a Different Approach to Unsweetened Chocolate

Have you been trying to eat 100% dark chocolate, but just can't get used to it? East Van Roasters has the solution for you.

When Shelley Bolton, Managing Director & Chocolate Maker at East Van Roasters in Vancouver, first handed me a piece of this innovative chocolate bar last Fall, I was impressed with the ingenuity. Shelley told me that many customers were looking for unsweetened chocolate, for required dietary reasons or as part of a plan to reduce sugar and be healthier. But some customers found 100% dark chocolate too bitter and acidic to enjoy. Shelley resolved this by adding cashews to the chocolate, to be refined directly in, in the same way that hazelnut butter might be included in chocolate to create a Gianduja.  Not only does this soften the texture of the chocolate and make it a bit creamier, but it takes the bitter edge off of the chocolate, making it palatable.

I've been curious about this extra dark cashew bar and thinking a lot about the conversation with Shelley. So I purchased East Van Roaster's Mad Cashew bar online from La Tablette de Miss Choco, in order to spend some time experiencing the taste and comparing it to other 100% dark chocolate bars. Once in hand, I found it quite tart from the taste of the Madagascar bean, but the bean's natural flavours also shine through with some citrus and berry flavours. The added salt gives the bar a savoury taste. I generally am not a fan of 100% dark chocolate made from Madagascar beans. Although wonderfully fruity when lightly sweetened, I find them too acidic to be palatable in 100% dark chocolate form. But Shelley's addition of the cashew paste, and a hint of salt, has not only made this chocolate palatable, but also enjoyable.

I did compare it to other 100% bars on hand, and found that Shelley's idea was quite genius - cashew butter does take the edge off of 100% dark chocolate. And it also adds a little protein, making this dark chocolate the perfect breakfast, lunch or anytime snack.

East Van Roasters has a store front location in Vancouver. Visit the website for more details: . And as I mentioned above, you can purchase the Mad Cashew Bar online from La Tablette de Miss Choco at:

Looking for other 100% dark chocolates that take the 'bite' out of the bitter?

Another bar that takes the harsh bite out of unsweetened chocolate is Zotter's Labooko dark-milk with 70% cocoa solids. There is no sugar or sweetener of any kind added, but the remaining 30% consists of milk and a touch of vanilla. This chocolate bar - although like East Van Roasters is also without sugar - sits on the sweeter side of the unsweetened chocolate spectrum.

Soma's Arcana chocolate bar is made from a blend of beans, designed to balance both the acidity and bitterness of 100% dark chocolate. Learn more here.

Try different origin bars! If you find one 100% chocolate too bitter or acidic, taste a different one made from beans of another origin. I have been experimenting with different beans to make 100% dark chocolate, and I have found that the palatability is completely dependent on the bean. For instance, the sweet Honduras bean that I use has nearly no acidity, and so a 100% chocolate made from those beans is easy to eat, compared to unsweetened chocolate made from beans that have more acidity. I also found an organic Philippine cocoa bean , which was perfect in an unsweetened chocolate and excellent for tasting. But truly it is all about your taste buds, and what is right for you. So get tasting!


  1. Hi, I'm just getting into chocolate making, and I was wondering. How can this be advertised as 100% dark chocolate when there is cashew butter and salt added? This is a noob question I know but I get confused, is cocoa butter added into the percentage as well? Thanks.

    1. Hi, I thought the same thing. It is interesting because it needs to appeal to people who are looking for 100% dark chocolate. So labelling it is tough. If, for instance, I hadn't searched thoroughly through Zotter's 400 chocolates to find something unsweetened, I might not have noticed it because it is labelled as a 'milk chocolate, dark style' and a 70%. But that doesn't necessarily reach the consumer looking for 100% dark chocolate, many of whom are looking for unsweetened and may want to try a dark-milk as well. So I can see why East Van Roasters has chosen to describe it on the label as '100% Madagascar origin chocolate' in order to reach those consumers looking for a 100% bar. I find labelling and descriptions one of the toughest parts of chocolate making at times. Do you have a product in the works yet? Good luck with all of your chocolate making!

    2. Thanks for the info! I'm going to try my first batch tomorrow! Following the Dark milk chocolate recipe in one of your earlier posts. I'm just trying to get everything figured out so I know what I can call my chocolate once I make it. Seems like there isn't really strict rules to labeling. This blog has been helping me a lot so thank you!

  2. Dying to try the Mad Cashew Bar, but the link doesn't take me there, and I can't find it anywhere else, either!

  3. "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." Charles M. Schulz ."

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