8:45 am - Friday June 23, 2017

How to Taste Chocolate

smell_the_chocolateAt first glance, the idea of learning how to taste chocolate sounds a little bit ludicrous, doesn’t it? Unless of course, the idea is how to hold yourself back so that you can actually taste its rich deliciousness rather than cramming it in your mouth and inhaling it in one gulp. That’s a lesson I could probably benefit from. But no … I am, in fact, talking about tasting chocolate in the same way that those who love and know wine do their tastings; using all of your senses in order to truly appreciate the experience and detect the nuances that truly fine chocolate possesses. Learning to taste chocolate will give you a much deeper sense of enjoyment, and will add another layer of pleasure to your chocolate passion.
A true chocolate tasting session should involve each of your five senses. You may wonder about how you can “hear” chocolate, but in truth, the snap of a piece of chocolate can speak volumes about its quality. Dark chocolate snaps with a much clearer sound than chocolates that have more milk and fat. It also leaves fewer crumbs. The look of the chocolate will not only tell you much about its content, but also about how fresh it is and how well it has been stored; if your chocolate is dark and shiny, it is fresh and of high quality, but if it looks as though it has a light coating of dust on it, that is called bloom. Bloom occurs when chocolate has been stored improperly.In addition to the look and sound, chocolate’s texture can provide clues about its quality. Good chocolate is firm and smooth, and never feels greasy. If your fingertips are at normal temperature, pressing on a piece of chocolate for just a few seconds will result in the beginnings of slight softening and melting.
Finally, the taste and smell are the elements of chocolate tasting with which you are already most familiar. There are hundreds of different aromas that a good piece of chocolate can reveal. Take the chocolate and warm it in your hands for a moment or two in order to release the scents, then cup it in your hands and contain your nose in the hollow you’ve formed – breathe deeply. The aromas can range from floral to nutty. You might think you taste fruit, or vanilla, or even something vaguely bitter or smoky. Each contributes to the experience of the chocolate, and speaks to the sources of the chocolate as well as any essences that have been added in the chocolatier’s process. Upon tasting these flavors will become even more pronounced. Take a small bit and allow it to melt on your tongue, then spread the chocolate with your tongue around to the different areas of your palate. You’ll find that the more you savor the morsel, the more flavors will be revealed. Only once you think you have gotten everything out of the piece should you swallow.
Tasting chocolate can be a profound sensory and educational experience. Taking the time to learn about the different layers of flavor and aroma will heighten your appreciation, even during those times when all you really want to do is satisfy a chocolate craving.

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