I have been asked ‘how to eat chocolates?’ a couple of times. To be honest, my favourite method is just to eat it – slowly and appreciatively, of course! But since you may be a little blue-blooded (‘atas’), here’s a quick and basic overview of how to eat and taste chocolates as if you were a judge:
Before you taste, your eyes should feast. Specifically, we are looking at the surface appearance for gloss and colouration. Examine the gloss of the chocolate. A good glossy surface indicates that the chocolate is well-tempered. Tempering allows the cocoa butter in your chocolate to form small and even crystals which gives, among other delicious things, a crisp texture to your chocolates. So to recap, glossy surface indicates well-tempered chocolates which indicate crisp texture. Next, look at the colour of the chocolate. While generally the higher the cocoa content, the darker the colour of the chocolate, this can vary considerably depending on many things, such as the type of cocoa bean. You are looking for white stains or dull colouration on the chocolates which indicates either a fat or sugar bloom. While the taste of bloomed chocolates is not affected and remains safe for consumption, bloom indicates that the chocolate has undergone changes in temperature and condensation.
Seen no evil? Now to hear no evil. When it comes to ‘hearing’ chocolates, you are listening for how the chocolate ‘snaps’. If it breaks with a crisp, clear and clean sound, it is a sign that of well-tempered chocolates that has high cocoa content. For chocolates with lower cocoa content, such as regular milk chocolates or white chocolates, the snap is typical less crisp, clear or clean. Such chocolates may even bend or crumble because they are softer due to a lower cocoa content.
Now to smell the chocolate. Chocolate is genuinely complex and how it smells and tastes to you depends on the time of the day of consumption (hint: there is no wrong time), the time, temperature and method of roasting the beans, variety of cocoa beans, fermentation process, size of cocoa beans, geography of plantation, roasting type, soil conditions, how the beans were dried – the list goes on. Try to identify as many distinct smells which you can then try to subsequently match when you finally taste it. Bear in mind that some aromas do not translate directly into taste.
Time to get serious. Time to eat. We’re looking at 2 main things here: texture and taste. Place a small piece of chocolates on your tongue and let the chocolate melt on your tongue. Well-tempered chocolates should melt naturally in your mouth without you having to chew. Observe the texture – is it smooth, greasy or grainy? If it tastes waxy, it may indicate that instead of expensive cocoa butter, the chocolate has been filled with cheaper vegetable oils – something our artisans would never do. Why let it melt? As the chocolate melts, different flavours will emerge – flavours that may be missed if we simply chew. Flavours may emerge at the start, midway and change again at the end. Some flavours you can expect from our chocolates include citrus notes and a smoky aftertaste, mossy earth, cinnamon, peanut butter, and honeycomb.