Called “food of the gods” by the Aztecs, the best quality chocolate is made of the highest quality beans and ingredients, with no fillers, waxes or additives. It can be expensive, but one taste will prove its worth to you.
Choose, according to taste:
- Dark Chocolate can contain from 62 to 85 percent cocoa paste (pure pulverized cocoa beans). Chocolate labeled “bittersweet” contains about 35 % and “semi-sweet” about 15%. Bittersweet and semi-sweet are often used interchangeably in cooking. The term “dark chocolate” describes any sweetened chocolate that does not contain mild solids.
- Milk Chocolate contains either condensed or dry milk as well as 30–40 percent cocoa. Typically much sweeter than dark chocolate, less than 30 percent cocoa may mean that the chocolate is too sweet.
- White Chocolate contains a blend of milk, cocoa butter (fat), sugar and sometimes flavorings like vanilla. It contains no cocoa solids and does not taste like chocolate, as it gets its name from the cocoa butter it contains. Beware: the cheaper varieties will have most or all of the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fats.
How do you recognize good chocolate?
As with most good things, the more senses that your chocolate appeals to, the better…
By Appearance: Smooth texture, evenly colored; no air pockets or cracks, surface should not be dull or have streaks or dots (chocolate bloom or fat bloom). This occurs when chocolate has been stored in too humid or too warm temperatures.
By Aroma: Sweetly fragrant while being unwrapped; Lack of smell may indicate a lack of flavor. You may detect also vanilla, berry, caramel or roasted nuts. Burnt, musty, or chemical smalls are not acceptable.
By Touch: Should feel silky, not sticky; As it is the only food that melts at body heat, it should just begin to yield to the warmth of your finger; it should snap cleanly, not crumble.
By Mouth Feel and Texture: Most of our taste buds are on the front of the tongue, so the taste explosion should begin immediately; It should be smooth and buttery, gently dissolving into a creamy liquid; If waxy, it may indicate that the cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat; Should not feel grainy or gluey.
By Flavor: Quality chocolate will be bittersweet, fruity and spicy with a good balance of acidity. The flavor should linger for several minutes with a clean aftertaste. It should not be overpoweringly sweet
How Do I Store Chocolate?
All chocolate should be well wrapped and stored in a cool (60-70degrees F.) dry place with good air circulation and odor-free environment. Keep away from direct heat and sunlight. White and milk chocolate can only be stored for about 10 months because of the milk solids they contain. Never store chocolate in plastic wrap–it gives the chocolate an unpleasant taste. It should always be consumed at room temperature.