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If you are wanting to rebalance and eat healthily, you may think that means no chocolate. Not so! The great news is that it just means having the right chocolate. Cacao is a superfood, it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, and the theobromine stimulates your body to produce mood lifting endorphins. So as long as you don’t swamp the cacao with sugar and fat, you can keep eating chocolate, it’ll simply make you happier and more able to give up things that really are bad for you!

This Discovery Box is all about sugar, or the lack of it. How different sugar levels bring out different flavour notes in the beans and how you can get sweetness and balance from many different sources.

If you would like to hear more, watch my tasting video at


As ever, make sure your chocolate is at room temperature, before you taste it and have a glass of water to hand.

When I am making a new chocolate the starting point is always the cacao – the corazón, the heart. Then it is a matter of which ingredients to add to it to evoke or complement its flavour profile. Usually that involves sugar, and what is surprising is that different quantities of sugar bring out different flavour characteristics in the beans. In the San Agustin 88 you catch cherry and damson notes while the San Agustin 70 is more honeyed with glimpses of red fruits.

Sometimes there is no need to add sugar because there can be enough naturally occurring in the other ingredients. So to make the No Added Sugar bars I have used a light bean from Awajun and relied on all the sweetness coming naturally from the fruit and nuts. In Pistachio Date and Raisin Hazelnut there is less sugar than in a straight 70% dark chocolate, but the balance is perfect.

The benchmark for sugar levels is the classic 70% dark chocolate which by definition contains 70% cacao and 30%  sugar. Anything with less sugar than this could be considered a lower sugar chocolate. Both my milk chocolates have a relatively high % cacao. Infact Milk of the Stars Surabaya 54 has less added sugar than a 70% dark chocolate. I do this because I am wanting the soft caramel notes in the Surabaya beans and the complex coffee nutty notes of Milk of the Gods Rio Caribe to really shine. Adding too much sugar would mask them.

El Blanco is white chocolate as it should be, totally pure and sublimely creamy. So the natural cocoa butter and raw cane sugar flavour notes are not swamped, I use only 30% sugar when most white chocolates have 50-60%, The ceremonial grade Matcha is so fine and delicate that for this I go down to just 23% sugar. It is all about the quality of ingredients and balance.


Anna’s Jewelled Bites, 100% Rio Maranon cacao brimming with fruit & nuts. This is an all powerful pick me up. My mother asked me to make a bar she could eat, back when I was just making 100% cacao for cooking. The dried fruit and nuts create the perfect balance with the cacao, but there are so many in there it has to be handmade. Mamma Mia!

Milk of the Heavens, 100% Sur del Lago cacao Milk Chocolate with No Added Sugar. This is my other worldly No Sugar Milk Chocolate, coming from a totally different place to normal milk chocolate. How is this possible? It is a matter of choosing a light bean, giving it a light roast and then allowing the natural sugars in the milk to create the balance. Perfect bean. Perfect balance.


Published: 05/07/2021

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