Chocolate tasting at home is a lot like tasting a fine wine. Each brand and style, whether dark, milk, white or bittersweet, has its own texture (Does it snap? Is it creamy?), and its own scent and subtle flavor nuances.
There is a way to taste chocolate. You need to take a couple of bites, clamp down so it touches the roof of your mouth, and then let it melt slowly. This way, you can really distinguish the flavor of the chocolate.
The melting point of cocoa butter — a key ingredient in bar chocolate — is just below body temperature, which is why it melts in your mouth.
There are two ways of cleaning your palate when you are chocolate tasting at home. Either take a sip of water, or take a bite of a pretzel.
Of course it’s much more fun to have guests along, and your friends can rate each chocolate on a simple scale of three: “Nope,” “OK” or “Wow.”
If you’d like to host your own chocolate tasting party, choose a wide mixture of chocolates, including milk, dark, semisweet and white varieties. Usually, a higher percentage of cocoa liquor (the extracted brown paste from the bean) produces a superior quality of chocolate.
Semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate contains at least 35 percent cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, and sometimes lecithin (emulsifier). Milk chocolate contains at least 10 percent chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla, at least 12 percent milk solids, and lecithin.
Finally, white chocolate, not exactly a true chocolate, contains a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, lecithin and vanilla.
Many of the finest cocoa beans come from the Ivory Coast of Africa. Every year, it takes one cocoa tree to produce four pounds of cocoa fruit. And it takes 400 beans to produce one pound of chocolate.
Chocolate has its roots dating back to the Olmec civilization, and the Aztecs believed it was a gift from the Gods. They made a refreshing drink from it, and the beans were also used as currency.
And don’t feel guilty eating chocolate! There are so many health benefits.
If you would like to host your own chocolate tasting at home, here is a guide to some of the most popular chocolate brands:
● Hershey’s special dark and milk chocolate — United States
● Newman’s Own organic milk and dark chocolate — United States
● Perugina dark, bittersweet and milk chocolates — United States
● Trader Joe’s bittersweet and milk chocolates — French import
● Valrhona dark and milk chocolates — France