Tasting Dark Chocolate: Cuisine 101

Introducing the C for Cuisine 101 series. I love feeding my tummy as well as my mind so this series will be an educational series about a certain type of food. Topics will span from “How to taste dark chocolate” to “101 Korean food.” I’ll research the nuances of food and report back with my findings. Then you can join me as I search for local restaurants and artisans to discover the nuances. It’s food for thought!

I’m self-taught so if you can add to my information, please comment below so I can learn a thing or two from you 🙂

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Before we begin it’s important to make sure:

  • Your palate is clean and void of any tastes from previously eaten foods. To rid your mouth of residual flavors eat a piece of apple or bread. (This is important for most types of tastings so that you can distinguish the food’s specific flavors)
  • There is enough chocolate to try several times and experience its flavor evolution. 10 grams should be the minimum.
  • The chocolate is at room temperature. If it’s cold, your taste buds will be inhibited and won’t be able to taste all the complex flavors.

Let’s get to the fun part… tasting! Here are some characteristics to look for:

  • Appearance: The surface should be shiny and free of any blemishes and white dusty marks (a.k.a. “bloom”). Observe the colors as well. Although chocolate is brown, there are different colored tints: red, purple, orange, etc.
  • Snap: Professionals snap the chocolate to see how much cacao % there is and how well it is tempered. The harder the snap, the better the quality (this is applicable to dark chocolate, not white or milk chocolate.)
  • Aroma: Smell the chocolate, especially after the snap. You may pick up some nuances in the smell that you will not be able to taste
  • Mouthfeel: Technical term for how the chocolate feels as it dissolves in your mouth. To evaluate mouthfeel, place chocolate in your mouth and run your tongue over the surface. This step is important because the chocolate will distribute in your mouth evenly. Having chocolate liquiefy in your mouth without chewing is typically a good indicator of quality.  Then, take another piece and chew it to evaluate its consistency. It’s also helpful to evaluate how the texture evolves from beginning to end. {Examples of mouthfeel: creamy or velvety, grainy or gritty, waxy or greasy. Waxiness may mean that a cheaper vegetable fat is used in lieu of cocoa butter.
  • Taste: There are different stages of taste: initial, mid-palate, and aftertaste. Although aftertaste is known as the finish in wine-tasting, the finish refers to the glossy surface of chocolate. Different tastes reveal themselves initially, at mid-palate, and in the aftertaste. (In wine-tasting, the aftertaste is referred to as the finish, although the finish in chocolate refers to the surface gloss of the tempered product) Here is a list of helpful descriptors.

It takes practice to define the nuances of chocolate which is why I pledge to eat lots of chocolate because “practice makes perfect.”

Alright, after your mini-lesson, I hope you are tempted to go out and buy some dark chocolate. Report back with your findings! And as always, if you have any additional information, please comment below.

Click here for Dude, Sweet Chocolate experience featuring a whopping 91% cacao content chocolate bar!

Photo c/o thedailygreen.com
My research came from: thenibble.com and wiki

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