A simple guide to becoming a chocolate snob
Want to know how to choose the best bar of chocolate? Then you’ll love our guide to chocolate appreciation. We’ll show where chocolate comes from and how a bite could be described as “earthy”, “fudge” or “floral”. Then you can show off your new-found chocolate knowledge to your friends.
What is chocolate?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which grow in pods on cocoa trees in areas along the equator. Just like coffee is separated into varieties like Arabica, Robusta, Catimor … Cocoa has 3 main varieties: Forastero, Criollo & Trinitario. Each one with its own distinct flavours and characteristics. The most widely used is Forastero making up 80–90% of the world production of cocoa. Whereas the Criollo variety is rarer and considered a delicacy.
How does it get its flavour
After cocoa beans are harvested they are fermented in big banana leaves or boxes with holes in the side. Better fermentation, gives better flavours early on, which means less roasting later on. Fermentation can take up to 8 days and this process sots the germination of the seed. Roasting is the next milestone that affects the flavour of the chocolate, the quality of the beans depends on the length of time and temperature. The last major milestone for enhancing flavour is conching. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days and has a big impact on the texture and taste of the final chocolate bar.
What are the different varieties of chocolate?
There are three main types of chocolate dark(cocoa liquor, cocoa butter & maybe sugar), milk (cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar & milk powder)and white(cocoa butter, sugar & milk powder). Dark has the most cocoa and white chocolate has the least amount but makes up for it by being oh so delicious and creamy.
How to taste craft chocolate?
We’re all guilty of smashing into a chocolate bar and demolishing it in record time just to get the chocolate hit ASAP. But if you have the urge to really soak up all the flavours in a chocolate bar follow the steps below. But common flavours in chocolate (called “tasting notes),” are tannin, floral, fudge, creamy, nutty, bitter, earthy, red fruit, and citrus. But if you’re new to craft chocolate tasting stick to bars which has tasting notes described as “fudge” or “creamy” for mellower less bitter flavours.
1. Look at the bar take in the packaging the size shape and colour they all add to the experience them carefully open the bar. Is it shiny and glossy? This is a sign of well-tempered chocolate.
2. Smell the bar just like in wine where you swirl the wine around before inhaling deeply unwrap the bar and with your nose close to the bar inhale the aromas deeply. What does it smell like to you malty, fruity or something else?
3. Break off a piece of chocolate does it snap of cleanly or crumble? If a snap is too brittle or crumbly it means it hasn’t been store correctly (ideally between 15-20 °C and never in a fridge)
4. Hold it in your hand does it melt? Craft chocolate has cocoa butter in it which melts at body temperature. Whereas mainstream chocolate flakes and crumbles into a sticky mess instead of a smooth clean melt.
5. Place the piece of chocolate in your mouth to melt if you can’t resist chewing just use your teeth to break the piece into a few pieces in your mouth to speed up the melting process. Then move it around your mouth enjoying all the beautiful aromas.
How should chocolate be stored
Chocolate should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place with a temperature between 15-20 °C. It should never be stored in the fridge, this is because chocolate stored in a fridge is a risk of sugar bloom. But due to high summer temperatures in Australia if you need to refrigerate to avoid your chocolate becoming a soupy messy seal in an airtight container and allow it to return to room temperature before you eat it.
We hope you enjoyed our guide to craft chocolate appreciation. So now you can confidently select, taste and enjoy your next bar of craft chocolate!
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