Sugar Free Chocolate
Gluten Free Chocolate
SPECIALTY CHOCOLATE #1
Sugar Free Chocolate/Diabetic Chocolate
Sugar free chocolate is chocolate made with an artificial sweetener. The sweetener used currently for sugarless chocolate is Maltitol, a natural corn derivative. Maltitol is commonly referred to as a "sugar alcohol", but is neither a sugar nor an alcohol. The Food and Drug Administration designated it as such because the Maltitol molecule looks half like a sugar molecule and half like an alcohol molecule. Maltitol is about 90% as sweet as sugar without any aftertaste. Almost all companies that make sugar-free chocolates use it.
Sugar free chocolate is of particular benefit to people with diabetes because of the Maltitol. Only a portion of this type of sugar replacer is digested and absorbed. The part that is absorbed does so slowly, so there's little rise in blood sugar and little need for insulin.
The downside of this specialty chocolate is the potential intestinal discomfort that can be caused by the other part of Maltitol that isn't digested or absorbed. It sits in the intestinal tract and starts to ferment and absorb water. So, excessive consumption of sugar free chocolate with Maltitol may cause a laxative effect.
"Sugar free" chocolate doesn't mean saturated fat-free, or calorie-free. Chocolate tastes so good because of sugar (whether natural or artificial sweetener) and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is rich in saturated fat. Period. If you find chocolate that uses vegetable fat instead of cocoa butter, you may have less saturated fat, but you're also going to end up with less flavor.
Does it have fewer calories? Yes, there are some calorie savings, but not enough to make any real difference. When it comes to chocolate, portion size is what you should monitor if you're trying to cut calories in your diet.
Even a little calorie savings could add up for someone who enjoys some chocolate every day, but the bottom line is that sugar free chocolate is probably of most benefit to diabetics.
SPECIALTY CHOCOLATE #2
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein occurring naturally in wheat, barley, rye and (debatably) oats. When these grains are milled, the gluten is released.
What is Gluten Allergy?
Gluten allergy is commonly called coeliac (or celiac) disease and sometimes coeliac (or celiac) sprue. It was first recognized by the Greeks in the 2nd Century AD. The Greeks called it "koiliakos", from which "coeliac" is derived.
Coeliac disease is actually an auto-immune disorder of the small intestine, not an allergy.
In a healthy digestive system, food is broken down in the stomach and passes through the small intestine where projections called villi absorb nutrients. These villi create a large surface area for absorption. In a digestive system afflicted with coeliac disease, the intestine thinks it's under attack from a foreign body: gluten. The lining of the intestine creates an immune response to the invader (gluten) by becoming inflamed and flattening the villi. The flattening of the villi means that their surface area is reduced and the nutrients vital to health therefore aren't absorbed. Over time this reponse leads to weight loss, wasting, and malnutrition.
While chocolate itself doesn't contain gluten, it can be picked up residually in processing. If gluten allergy is a concern of yours, this specialty chocolate can help broaden your culinary options.
SPECIALTY CHOCOLATE #3
The Kosher market has long been recognized by the food industry as a significant and worthwhile market to accommodate. Kosher chocolate is not left out.
For a food product to be considered Kosher, it must be either:
1. An animal deemed kosher in the Bible.
2. A food product that comes from an animal by-product deemed kosher in the Bible. (For kosher chocolate, this pertains to milk.)
Additionally, it must be prepared as outlined by the Rabbis in the Talmud. Kosher food requires, among other things, the separation of meat and milk and specific procedures for slaughtering and preparing meat. These specifications extend to the utensils and machinery used in a food product's preparation.
The processing of the cocoa bean into high quality specialty chocolate adhering to strict Kashrus requirements is a challenge, but undoubtedly worthy of the effort.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America is an organization that provides rabbis trained to certify that a particular food has been prepared according to Jewish dietary laws and can be considered kosher. Their copyrighted symbol, a U inside an O, can only be placed by them on labels for products that they have certified as kosher.
But, there is a multitude of such organizations around the world, each having its own copyrighted symbol. When searching for certified kosher chocolate, be sure and look for one of these symbols. Be careful, though. If you only see a K on the label (which cannot be copyrighted since it is simply a letter of the alphabet), then the company that manufactured the chocolate may not have been approved by a certified organization.
Companies today are willing to make additional efforts to provide chocolate that meets the highest levels of Kashrus.
And here are Chocolate Dessert Cafe's favorite kosher-certified merchants:
DANCING DEER BAKING CO.
All of Dancing Deer's products are certified Kosher Dairy (Star D) under the supervision of the Star-K. Their products are Dairy, Non-Cholov Yisroel; Kosher for year-round use, excluding Passover.
BAKE ME A WISH!
All of the gourmet gift cakes at Bake Me A Wish! are Chof-K certified.