Yesterday 14 intrepid volunteers journeyed through a rainstorm to risk falling into a sugar-induced coma all for the sake of my Chocolate Project. Today 4 more people will be added to their numbers.
This is the week of my Blind Chocolate Tastings to decide which of the most popular of Zürich's chocolatiers would prove to be the favorite.
On Wednesday, in honor of Valentine's Day, I shall post the winning chocolate!
But first, a bit of information on How to Taste Chocolate.
Silly me! I've just been eating it all these years. What was I thinking? Chocolate tasting is both a skill and an art form. There are professional chocolate tasters out there. And I would like to know what their training is and how I might get one of those jobs!
In preparation for the Blind Chocolate Tasting, I researched how a chocolate tasting should be conducted and what tasters should be analyzing.
Chocolate should have an even texture and a shiny gloss with no discoloration. Good gloss indicates proper tempering in the production process. Discoloration and/or lack of gloss indicates either that the product sat on the store shelf for too long or that it has undergone a temperature change after production.
The feel of the chocolate should be neither too hard nor too soft. It should melt easily and leave an even coat of chocolate on your fingers. Chocolate that does not melt easily or evenly indicates the use of vegetable oil instead of pure cocoa oil.
A high quality dark chocolate should have a clear, crisp “snap” when it breaks. It should break evenly with no crumbs. This indicates a high cocoa content and even tempering.
Milk chocolate and white chocolate are excluded from the “snap” test. As they have a higher cocoa fat content, they will not break as cleanly.
Is it fruity? Spicy? Floral? Bready? Woody?
Similar to wine, chocolate will have distinct aromas that indicate not only how it was prepared, but also the type of bean used and the region in which the bean was produced. Some chocolate experts can tell you this information by only sniffing the chocolate.
Technical term for, literally, how the chocolate feels in your mouth. Good chocolate will liquefy without being chewed. Chocolate should be smooth, not grainy or gritty. It can be velvety or creamy depending upon how much cocoa butter was used in the making. What one prefers is a matter of personal taste. However, if it has a waxy feel it indicates that a vegetable oil was used in place of cocoa oil.
First put a small amount of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt to evaluate the feel. Then place a second piece in your mouth and chew it to determine the feel and texture in that way.
As the chocolate melts in your mouth, the different tastes will reveal themselves. The initial taste, the mid-palate and the aftertaste. The aftertaste may be short or long. It may be sweet or bitter. Again, much of this is a matter of personal taste rather than what it "should" be.