How To Appreciate Good Chocolate
- If your dark chocolate has been treated properly, it should exhibit a dark and even color and sheen.
- When you break a piece of chocolate of good quality, it snaps cleanly when broken. It proves that your precious chocolate has been tempered properly. Then hold a piece between your fingers and notice how quickly it melts. It is a sign that it contains real cocoa butter, not unhealthy hydrogenated fats. Close your eyes and rub your fingers together to feel it smoothness.
- Next, bring your piece of chocolate to your nose and smell its aroma. It should smell like chocolate with no off odors. Some companies add a touch of vanilla but that should not affect its quality. Depending on its source, your chocolate will have a variety of aromas, including flowery, fruity, roasted, nutty, spicy, vegetable and other exotic aromas.
- Finally, bring it to your mouth. Close your eyes and feel your dark chocolate melt slowly on your tongue. Swirl it around and feel its smoothness. There should be no grittiness or graininess. That would be a sign of a lower and less refined (conched in professional terms) chocolate. Fine chocolate is smooth and silky, and cheap chocolate is gritty. If the flavor lingers for a while, it is said to have a long finish.
- The final mouth feel should never be greasy or waxy. That would prove that your chocolate bar is not real chocolate but a chocolate confection containing animal fats or hydrogenated fats instead of natural cocoa butter.
- Drink room-temperature still or sparkling water between tastings to clean your palate.
- The best time to taste good quality chocolate is about an hour after you brush your teeth in the morning, before you have had anything else to eat or drink. Your palate is most alert at this time of the day. Personally, I use it as a special treat after dinner as a flavorful and sensual relaxant.
How To Store Chocolate
- Typically, good quality chocolate bars will have up to 18 month shelf life. Most high quality chocolate bars will have an expiration date on them.
- It should be kept in its original foil wrapper or box and stored in a cool and dry place. The best storage temperature is 62-70F. Do not store your chocolate in your refrigerator or freezer. It will kill the flavor and invite humidity condensation which is a flavor killer. Please be lovingly careful with your chocolate and it will return the favor.
- If your chocolate shows a white film over it or blooms, it is a sign that it has not be handled and stored properly. There could be two reasons:
1. It has been overheated which will melt the cocoa butter partially and alter its structure and smoothness. The smooth mouth feel will be lost.
2. It has been stored at too low a temperature and when it came back to room temp, humidity coated the chocolate and drew the sugar out from the chocolate. Again, its texture will be damaged. Either way, your chocolate has been damaged. Personally, I would return it for an exchange or a refund. Any quality chocolate store will respect your wish but don’t expect the same attitude from your average grocery store. They were probably not trained in the fine art of chocolate handling.
Good luck and Bon Appetit! LIFE IS SHORT, EAT CHOCOLATE EVERY DAY!