I thought I knew my chocolate! well who doesn’t?
When I was asked recently what do I think of dark chocolate, well I answered ‘I have always found it to be bitter…. give me Cadburys any day!’
Oh how time, experience and tastes change! Over the past few months I have been introduced to ‘real’ chocolate, not the commercial type that I thought was the only kind!
I have tried many types, flavours and brands and the difference is I NOW know what chocolate should taste like.
Dark Chocolate is not bitter its delicious especially when you taste it properly – a little like tasting fine wine!
You can read about my experiences now at Introduction to Real Chocolate
During the Oxted’s Chocolate Fair I was helping in the kitchen serving refreshments. One of the chocolate products I just loved to make and drink was the Kokovo Hot Chocolate. To see me making a Kokovo Hot Chocolate check out: – How to make Kokovo Hot Chocolate
I have been up to food fairs in London since and now my ‘eyes have been opened’ I have been much more focused on chocolate. I met the Duke of Delhi and their amazing dark chocolate infused with unusual spices and trofflechocs which were so beautiful. Trofflechocs are handmade chocolates, home-grown ingredients, inspired by the spice markets of the Eastern Mediterranean.
I have also tried my hand at making my own chocolate with Pachanka’s Finest Columbian Chocolate Craft Kit which turned out well. One batch made with a natural sweetener and the other with icing sugar. Tempering the cocoa butter and cocoa paste together and lots of roasted cocoa beans to crush and use the ‘nibs’ on recipes later.
What I slowly started to understand was to appreciate the tastes behind the chocolate was comparable to tasting fine wines. Its all a much slower more sedate and ‘grown up’ experience.
Firstly the tasting has to be done in a calm, maybe quiet environment and it should be a comfortable temperature not too hot or cold. You choose with your eyes, which chocolate appeals the most? the prettiest, the most colourful the one with something nice on the top, its true your eyes are the first to satisfy!
Sitting round tasting chocolate we were all immediately drawn to Solkiki’s raspberry white chocolate such a great vibrant pink colour. I have never compared chocolate, but looking at a plate of different brands, quality, types…they vary so much in colour from rich reds to dark browns.
Touching chocolate is also something I have not been comfortable doing as it would normally melt and get sticky again better chocolate should appear smooth, maybe glossy or shiny. When I pick up the chocolate to break it I would also be hoping for some early hints of flavour and aromas. Like you smell a glass of wine you smell the chocolate and hope for fruit, flowers or nutty aromas?
Then its all about the snap of the chocolate – I understand the better the chocolate is the better the snap. You want a sharp, crisp, even brittle snap. I have experienced dull and nearly bendy bars of chocolate.
Putting a small piece of chocolate in my mouth I wait for it to start to melt. This can take a few minutes, but its worth the wait. Once it’s a liquid, starting at the front of the tongue (where most of your taste buds are) I move it all round my mouth and under my tongue. Do you get sweet, sour, fruit, nuts? I am hoping for a lingering flavour, something standing out but most of the chocolates I have tasted here are a great balance with no aftertaste.
I certainly realise it would be a sin to crunch and swallow this type of chocolate! I have read somewhere that some chocolate can stay with you as long as 45 minutes, I haven’t had that piece yet but its still out there for me to find…..
And while we are on the finding subject I think that the Easter bunny has been educated rather than converted. Knows what to look for in better chocolate now and its not just about the cocoa content or the size of the egg!”
Some more chocolates and chocolate confection to try:
Liking a new study here:The Benefits of Chocolate posted by Eat Drink Live Well – eating chocolate every day led to improved liver enzymes and reduced insulin resistance (both risk factors for cardiovascular disease). But remember there’s a world of difference between cheap processed chocolate that can raise inflammatory markers – and high flavonoid cacao, cocoa and dark chocolate, so choosing your chocolate with care is important for maximum benefits.