Friday, January 20, 2017

Lakanto - Sugar Free 55% Cacao Chocolate with Almonds bar - Jan. 20, 2017

Chocolate of the Day: 

Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetened
Sugar Free 55% Cacao Chocolate with Almonds bar
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total bar
Calories: 87 calories (per label) in 1/3 bar
Cost: $5.95 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: missing information

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Alternative Sweetener Theme Week.

Today's Lakanto Sugar Free 55% Cacao Chocolate with Almonds bar (made in the U.S. and distributed by Saraya Canada Co., LTD) was very sweet, and it was sugar free.

For those avoiding sugar, watching glycemic index numbers, or cutting calories, this Lakanto chocolate was sweetened with a blend of monk fruit extract and erythritol (alcohol sugar)—a zero calorie sugar substitute. The company claims their 55 percent bars have 40% fewer calories than other chocolate bars.

The recommended 1/2 bar serving (43 g.) is only 120 calories. I tend to think of calories per oz. and this translates to just 87 calories per 1 oz. (28.3 g.) of chocolate—a low number. Conventional, sugar-sweetened chocolates range from 145 to 175 calories per 1 oz. (This bar also contained some vegetable fiber.)

The Lakanto sweetened chocolate had a very sweet cocoa aroma. Stoneground Arriba Nacional Cacao beans from Ecuador added authentic chocolate flavor to this vegan, dairy free and gluten free bar; but some of the deeper chocolate notes seemed to be muted by the sweetener. The chocolate had a light, lingering sweet finish. And small bits of almonds added some crunchy texture.

Ideally I'd prefer not to give up any of the natural chocolate flavor spectrum so carefully developed in a well-made bar if I didn't have to. However, the Lakanto monk fruit blend represents progress and was a relatively pleasant sweetener and worth trying if you need to be sugar free.

Thoughts on Cane Sugar, Sweeteners and Chocolate
Why do chocolate makers prefer cane sugar for fine chocolate? Cane sugar has been described as a "blank slate" in terms of flavor (or the lack thereof).

Developing a great, unique flavor profile for a bean-to-bar chocolate is a very complex, time-consuming process. And, after all that hard work, sweetener(s) used to make great chocolate need to support the best cacao flavor profile possible and allow the best/most desired features of a given cacao to shine.

Flavor considerations aren't the only reason for sweetener choices. I do get a bit of a rush from the sugar and the theobromine/caffeine in chocolate. I find this is OK in moderation. However, this rocket ride might be undesirable for others; and it's great to know many people are working hard on better tasting, more natural sugar substitutes.*

I notice differences when I eat sugar-free, lower glycemic sweetened, and traditional chocolates. After sampling thousands of different chocolates, I've observed the differences first hand. I feel calmer after eating certain chocolates than others. And sweeteners are part of the reason why.*

*Percentage and type/composition of cacao as well as quantity of chocolate eaten most certainly matter at least as much for most people as the sweetener choice—as do other factors (ranging from how much sleep I've gotten, what my mood is, what other food and drink I've just consumed, etc.) I wouldn't recommend eating an entire high percentage dark chocolate bar with cane sugar before bed-time. I eat my chocolate of the day in the morning, in part for this reason.

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