Way back in 2009, we conducted the first official Candy Yum Yum poll where you, dear Yumsters, told me what you wanted to read about. One of the things that was mentioned several times, and that I've failed to report on, was sugar-free chocolate. But the time has come to delve into the mysterious world of chocolate sans sugar.
When I worked at the chocolate shop in college, we had one refrigerated case of chocolates that were all sugar-free. When you opened the doors to mix up a pound of vanilla creams, cordial cherries and raspberries jellies, you'd get this whiff of ... something. It's hard to describe. It wasn't a chocolate smell, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant, either. If anything, it was a malty kind of aroma with a coolness to it. The sugar-free candies were a hot commodity and were, if I recall correctly, the most expensive chocolates in the store. We were instructed that these were not low-calorie and weren't meant for weight loss. This was candy made for diabetics. (One day I overheard one of my co-workers quite loudly explaining to a woman that these wouldn't help her lose weight. Needless to say, she didn't last long in the position.)
Anyhow, the deal with sugar-free chocolate is that it is generally made with maltitol, sorbitol and xylitol, all sugar alcohols which provide the sweetness of table sugar, but with a slower absorption time, which makes it safe for some diabetics. The downside of this is that it can cause bloating and diarrhea, so one piece usually has to suffice.
But how does it taste?
I was sent some samples of Sorbee "Fine European Chocolate" in both milk and dark, sweetened with maltitol and sucralose (Splenda). I was pleasantly surprised by the aroma. It actually smelled like decent chocolate. As for the taste ... well, come on, let's be real here. It tastes as much like a big hunk of Belgian chocolate as a Garden Burger tastes like a Big Mac. You can't really compare the two. The sugar-free lacks a certain richness. It's got the sweetness, but not the creamy "fatness." It's cool on the tongue and doesn't have a melty quality. But, God forbid I should ever find myself in the position of not being able to enjoy chocolate on a daily basis, I could certainly come to like this stuff. Is it a substitute? No. But as its own sweet treat for people with health restrictions, it's fine. For further research, I'm going to pass some of this onto to others who have more experience with sugar-free chocolates and get their opinions. I'll keep you posted.