How to taste chocolate like a professional
Enjoying high-quality chocolate is an experience like no other. As a nation we now have a better understanding of the benefits of chocolate, as well as distinguishing the complexities of the quality and the delicious flavour, we love so much.
Each type of chocolate bar contains its own set of unique flavour profiles and nothing in the world has such complex flavours and smells as chocolate. The cocoa bean has over 400 distinct aromas - at least twice as many as any other natural produce. This can be altered by a multitude of variables, including growing conditions as well as the fermenting and roasting process of the beans which also play an important part in the outcome of the incredible taste.
Our House Dark 70% Chocolate from the rich and diverse landscape of the Congo for example has a slightly tart flavour with fruity accents, hints of Morello cherries, earthy chocolate and black tea are revealed with a taste of sheer indulgence, whilst our House Milk 42% Chocolate from Ecuador has a nutty flavour with notes of caramel and hazelnuts with Fleur de Sel resonate.
From the Dominican Republic we present our House White 37% Chocolate with sweet impressions of banana milk and cocoa butter, each of our bars expressing a unique taste of luxury.
The taste of chocolate is equally complex as a result of the presence of over 300 different chemical compounds. These chemicals stimulate the brain like caffeine or adrenaline. They affect the brain’s mood centres and bring about the emotion of falling in love and happiness.
Many of these chemical compounds are identical or similar to those found in fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and other substances. Hence you often may hear the tasting notes of chocolate compared to those such as melon, citrus, cherry, berry, honey, peach, vanilla, grass, green olive, clove, liquorice, leather, tannin, cedar, tea, coffee and wine.
To appreciate the true taste of chocolate, you should also take into consideration the appearance and the smell, giving you your final conclusion.
Before you begin your tasting journey be sure that your chocolate has been stored properly in a cool place that's NOT the fridge. A fridge will dull the flavour of your chocolate and WILL NOT allow flavours to release when tasting.
Look for a beautiful aroma when unwrapping your chocolate. It should smell inviting with a complex fragrance. It should be sweetly fragrant but not overpowering.
Now you will notice the appearance. Look for a flawless chocolate, evenly coloured with no cracks, air pockets or streaks.
All chocolate should have a glossy shine to its surface, and be free of any cracks, smudges or pale streaks of unmixed cocoa butter.
Now take a piece and break it - it should snap cleanly - if it splinters or crumbles it is NOT the sign of a good chocolate. Take a look inside, what you are looking for is a solid bar all the way through with no blemishes.
And now this leads onto the taste: Your palate should be clean. If necessary, eat a wedge of apple or piece of bread, since these foods will wipe out all pre-existing flavours without imparting their own. Water, especially sparkling water, also works as a palate cleanser.
Take a small piece and let it melt in the mouth for five or six seconds – a quality chocolate will start to melt straight away as you roll it around your mouth, as it is the only substance that melts at body temperature.
You are looking for a smooth consistency gently dissolving into a creamy liquid filling the mouth with delicious flavours. It should NOT be grainy or 'gluey' as this is not a good sign.
Study the taste and texture. As the chocolate melts, concentrate on the flavours that unfold on the tongue. It is important to notice how the flavour evolves from beginning, middle, to end, and how the flavour exists in the finish (after the chocolate has melted). You want flavour to linger for several minutes with a clean aftertaste and no residue; and certainly not be overpoweringly sweet.
The FLAVOURS from where most of the chocolate experience comes are located on different parts of the tongue: SWEET (front) SOUR (front/sides) BITTER (back) SALT (back/ sides). Everybody has his own body chemistry so you might taste any one or all of the flavours mentioned below but essentially chocolate will be bitter-sweet, fruity and spicy with a good balance of acidity and should be subtle rather than overpowering.
There is no right or wrong way to taste chocolate and no two people perceive aroma or taste flavours exactly the same.
Everyone gets better with practice, so there is no better excuse.
R Chocolate London