Do you know how to taste chocolate like a pro?
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I taste chocolate all the time! Don’t I just shove it into my mouth and chew and swallow?
While some may like to enjoy their chocolate this way, there are a few key steps that can really improve and enhance your chocolate experience and make an already fun experience even more fun.
First, there are four things you need to do to prepare:
- Prepare a cup of hot or warm water. This is to melt the cacao butter from the chocolate. It will stay on your tongue if you don’t clear it away. Think of the water as a palate cleanser in between samples.
- When choosing your chocolate samples, try the same types of chocolate at the same time. For example, all dark chocolate or all milk etc. This is so you can compare each nuanced flavour between every sample. Every cacao bean tastes very different from region to region and tasting these differences is where the fun comes in!
- Limit any extra aromas or sources of smells near you. If you are cooking or have a diffuser on, for example, move to a different area for your chocolate tasting.
- Make sure your chocolate is at room temperature. This is because when a food is cold, your sense of taste is dulled. That’s why when you eat melted ice cream it tastes a lot sweeter than when it was frozen.
Now you are prepared to taste chocolate like a pro.
Unwrap your chocolate bar and visually inspect your chocolate. Look to see if the chocolate has a grey or white sheen. If it does, it may mean that this bar hasn’t been tempered properly and that the beta crystals in the chocolate haven’t locked together in a way to make the chocolate stable. When this happens, the cacao butter rises to the surface of the bar and makes your chocolate piece gritty and not as intended. If this is the case, I don’t recommend that you use it as one of your tasting samples. The chocolate is still good and you can definitely use it for baking – or you could re-temper it (tempering is a lesson for a different time).
Break off a piece of chocolate. Do you hear a sharp snap? That means that the chocolate has been properly tempered.
Once you have a piece of chocolate, smell it. Your nose can detect thousands of chemicals that your tongue can’t. Take the chocolate and smell it closely – breathing in with your mouth closed and breathing out with your mouth open (socially distanced, of course) with multiple deep breaths to really take in the aroma of the chocolate.
Take the chocolate and melt it in between your fingers, just a little bit, to warm it up. Warm the chocolate in between your fingers and get ready to taste.
Take a small piece of the chocolate bar and let it sit on your tongue for a few seconds. Once the chocolate piece is melting on your tongue, focus on the texture (AKA mouth feel) of that chocolate. You are able to feel what the chocolate maker intended when they made that chocolate. Some bars will be smooth, some will be gritty, some will be glossy. You should be able to discern those textures on your tongue.
After the chocolate piece has melted on your tongue a little bit, you can start to chew. But, don’t swallow it right away! Once you start chewing, the chocolate will move all around your tongue, and your tongue has different flavour sensors all over it. Some spots will pick up sweeter tastes, some spots will pick up saltier tastes. By doing this you are able to experience a whole other level of each chocolate bar. While it is sitting on your tongue, think about these things: fragrance, mouth feel, flavour, aroma, acidity, balance, sweetness, bitterness, and finish.
Repeat these same steps for every chocolate sample.
Here are the steps again:
We hope that this guide helps you to enhance your chocolate eating experience. The next time you pick up a chocolate bar, make sure that you’re REALLY tasting it.
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