We are not talking about your everyday chocolate treats here. The taste of these is familiar to us and we tend to shove it all in without thinking too much!
How to taste chocolate properly, like a professional connoisseur is what we are going for here:
It will likely be dark chocolate. There are many ‘notes’ to chocolate. It is a wonderful ingredient that can produce many flavour experiences such as nutty or fruity.
There are, however, some fabulous examples of milk and white chocolate too at the gourmet end.
Don’t think just in terms of cocoa content. Quality is not necessarily about the cocoa content, but about the quality of the bean. Some dark chocolates have been highly roasted to disguise a poorer quality bean.
Raw chocolate has unroasted or very lightly roasted beans to really showcase the bean’s properties. There are some interesting (and slightly more challenging) options to try, depending on your taste.
Be prepared to pay a lot more for your gourmet chocolate bars.
Where do I go for gourmet?
Visit a posh chocolate shop and they should be knowledgeable about what they are selling and help you choose according to your taste.
High-end chocolate shops will often offer tasting sessions. These are well worth it, as you can try a few and find out what chocolate you enjoy the most.
A good supermarket will also have a decent amount of quality chocolate bars on offer too.
There are good online retailers such as Cocoa Runners. They offer a tasting club and have a fantastic array of chocolate bars on offer. When I’m running a gourmet tasting, these are my go-to suppliers.
I’m going to share the wise words of a chocolate guru – Chloe Doutre-Roussel. The chocolate buyer for Fortnum and Mason’s for a number of years. Doutre-Roussel is highly regarded in the chocolate world. I believe she is around a size 6 and used to taste her way through a 1lb of chocolate every day. She would get up early, swim, and drink only water until her tasting was completed. Nothing was allowed to taint her tastebuds and ruin the full effect of the chocolate.
Here’s how to taste chocolate
(taken from The Chocolate Connoisseur- By Chloe Doutre-Roussel)
When presented with a square of chocolate:
- Look at it: what do you see? Colour? Shine? Texture? Blooming or discolouration?
- Touch it: what do you feel? How does the broken surface look: smooth or rough and bubbly? Sticky?
- Listen to it: what do you hear as you snap a square in half?
- Smell it: what do you find?
- Taste it: put a tiny piece in your mouth, chew it, then stop and allow it to melt.
- Concentrate on how you feel, and if there is any change in flavour of what your tongue feels over time.
- Look for flavours:
- do you recognise them?
- perhaps they evolve over time?
- interact with each other, or do they seem to come in separate phases?
is one more present and clear than the others, or do they combine?
- rate their intensity.
- Good chocolate has three distinct phases. Try to distinguish them:
- what you feel in the first seconds
- what you feel while it slowly melts
- now swallow, what you feel now. This phase is called the ‘end of mouth’.
Like many, I only used to eat the cheapo chocolate that we find everywhere. Since I made chocolate my business, I’ve learned to really appreciate the finer chocolates out there. I find the everyday chocolate a little too sweet these days. I still enjoy a naughty treat now and again, but prefer the better quality stuff. It has so much more to it.
I want you to notice the finish – when you enjoy good dark chocolate, the flavour will stay in your mouth so much longer. We want a nice long finish!
Come us tell us what good chocolate you have been tasting over on my Facebook page.
Imagine if tasting chocolate was part of your business. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it!