Every origin of chocolate is a little bit different. Like with wine, the way to tell the difference between the chocolatiers’ creations is by relying on your palate, much like how you would do at a wine or coffee tasting. Because cocoa beans are a natural, agricultural product and not a formula from a chemist’s lab, different beans can have slightly different characteristics, especially when grown in different regions. Here are three things to look for when you’re tasting chocolate.
Look: Use your eyes to let in the item’s color. Dark chocolate will have a deep, rich brown color that varies due to the bean’s origin, and the item’s cocoa percentage. In addition to the color, the chocolate should have a pleasantly glossy surface.
Break: How does the break sound? High-quality chocolate will have a clean, crisp snap. This sound means that the chocolate is ‘in temper,” which means that the cocoa butter has properly bonded with the solid cocoa. The correct temper gives chocolate its optimal texture.
Taste: Now that you’ve invoked your senses of sight, touch, and sound, it’s time to taste. Take a small piece and let it melt in your mouth. Is it creamy and smooth? Dry and complex? How do inclusions like vanilla, coffee, or cream affect the piece’s texture and mouthfeel? You might find that the piece releases multiple flavors as it melts. Breathe in and let the air flow over your palate to emphasize these flavors.
Stop by our chocolate cafe and coffee shop in downtown St Paul and experience chocolate tasting for yourself. We’d love to take you on a journey of complex flavors!