I found out during some extensive research that a cacao rating between 42% to 45% is a real sweet spot (and yes, the pun was intended). More than this in cacao and the bitterness of chocolate is emphasized, and less than this, and it becomes too sweet and not chocolaty enough. Plus, at this cacao rating, if blended correctly, it can taste a little bit creamy rich like milk chocolate, but yet absolutely not have any milk nor dairy in it at all (and this is especially important since any milk and dairy at all would just simply negate the cacao’s main health advantages).
And Hershey has 2 special blends, one at 42% cacao, and another at 45%, and supposedly they are very well regarded (and yes, of course Hershey makes cacao blends that are 60% and higher, and it also makes them at 35% and much lower at the 10% to 20% range..
Also, chocolate chips, because they are so small with that definite pyramid-like shape, actually never go above 60% cacao, otherwise they couldn’t keep their shape. And so chocolate bar can go up to 90%, and even 100%. But the chips normally only go up to 60%.
The terminology is also rather loose, but by either laws or by traditions, the following is true. Dark chocolate just means that there is no milk nor dairy, but it can be dark with even just 10%-20% cacao, and so this simple Dark rating is so-to-speak, the entry-level rating for the entire wide dark spectrum (although sometimes the law forces a Dark rating into the category of Semi-Sweet/Bitter-Sweet). Semi-sweet and bitter-sweet are originally two names for the same composition, and with cacao content at, at least, 35%. But by tradition, semi-sweet generally covers the lower end of the spectrum above 35% and it truly semi-sweet/semi-bitter, and bitter-sweet covers the higher end of the spectrum, and it truly more bitter than sweet. There is no hard dividing line between the two, but in general, 60% cacao is generally the transition point. And so generally, 35% to 60% is semi-sweet, and 60% to 100% is bitter-sweet. (and yes a 60% can be judged either way, depending on your perspective). And the original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips were at 35% cacao, and so were very sweet, and usually too sweet for eating, but not too sweet to baking. But like I said, this 42% to 45% is really a sweet spot for most people, in that it has taste characteristics of both ends of the spectrum, with the disadvantages of the either end of the spectrum. And yes, the higher the cacao content, the higher the health benefit of the cacao, but also the less sweet it all is, and the more bitter it all is. And so, that high-cacao content gets a little over-blown out of proportion to the overall aspects. Plus, the 42%-cacao rating is perfect for making a perfect cup of hot chocolate.
And the best-tasting semi-sweet chocolate chips I could found, that are nationally available, and are also organic in every way, are made by this company SunSpire. And they are the hidden suppliers of Fred Meyers Bulk bins. But their offerings are also available at Safeway markets, and also various quality organic stores nationwide.
Anyways, for lovers of good chocolate, and for lovers of good healthy chocolate, and for easy-availability nationwide, and yet always organic from special farms in Central America, SunSpire is a great and delicious and healthy choice.