Cacao: Ecuador RFA Trinitario Sweetener: Freeze dried blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, crushed in a mortar and pestle
Problem: As part of my method I attempted to achieve the same flavor profile as I might have with sugar by checking the sugar content of the berries and using the weight of berries that would be required to achieve the same sugar content in the chocolate. This resulted in a bitter, tart, very astringent, unpleasant chocolate. I ended up adding additional sugar and milk powder in an attempt to smooth out the flavor, as well as leaving the chocolate in the melanger for four full days. This noticeably improved the flavor of the chocolate but it was not sufficient to produce a satisfactory product.
How did you check the sugar content of the berries?
They came packaged with nutritional information (in grams) so I added the total sugar from each package of berries together until I had a weight of sugar equal to the amount I ordinarily would have used.
So, there's no way for you to tell if the generic nutritionals that were sent for 'berries' were actually reflective of your specific berries. Berries have different sugars levels as they mature.
Generally speaking, regardless of the maturity of your particular berries, you're never going to get enough sugar from your berries to displace the sugars from a 'conventional' sugar source. Plus, berries come with other things, such as, things that taste bitter, and astringent, and often times the types of sugars that are present in berries aren't very compatible with making chocolate (think fructose).
If you want a sweetened chocolate - use conventional sweeteners. Nothing wrong with adding berries to flavor it, but you'll never be able to add enough to fully sweeten the chocolate in a pleasing way.
Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.
Yeah, this experiment was an attempt at that and I think I've definitely proven to myself that chocolate sweetened solely with berries isn't going to work very well. I definitely think I could figure out a way to make a milk chocolate sweetened partially with berries, and the process of conching did wonders to decrease the unpleasant tart/bitterness that the berries brought.
I'm going to try a chocolate that uses either powdered cream or milk powder, cane sugar, and a smaller amount of berries to flavor it. I'll try to remember to make a post when I do.