How to taste bean-to-bar, craft chocolate
Susan M. Stokes, Chocolate Addict
7 February 2020
Bean-to-bar craft chocolate is not like the chocolate you buy in supermarkets, so no wolfing it down in one go. Why not, because you miss all of the beautiful flavours and subtle tasting notes.
So much effort has gone into sourcing just the right beans to give a rich flavour profile and then to all the steps in the middle to give us the finished chocolate bar, so it seems a shame to not savour the unique flavours.
Enjoying a piece or bar of craft chocolate is a full sensory experience – if you let it. From the look of the packaging, the chocolate bar itself, the smell, picking it up and snapping a piece off to the exquisite moment when it slowly melts on your tongue. A chocolate lovers nirvana.
Here’s how to use all five of your senses sight, smell, sound, touch and taste, to their full effect when tasing craft chocolate:
Look at your bar take in the packaging is it colourfull or muted, is the wrapper foil, plastic, or paper and which do you prefer? It all subconsciously adds to or takes away from the whole experience. Next, carefully take out the chocolate bar, what does it look like? Is shiny and glossy or dull with a white power? If you see white power this means it has melted and reset when in storage or transit. Don’t worry a little bloom on the surface doesn’t affect the flavour but you need to let it melt on your tongue a little longer.
The moment you unwrap your bar aromas are released and even more so when you hold it in your hand warming it up(see below for more). Tasting a bar of craft chocolate is like tasting a glass of fine wine and before you drink it you swirl it around and inhale deeply before taking a sip. Our sense of smell is also connected to our memory, how many times have certain smells triggered one of your memories? While inhaling the aromas of the bar observe does it smell fruity, earthy, citrus or floral notes, what does it remind you of does it trigger a memory?
When you break off a piece of the bar, what does it sound like? Do you hear a clear satisfying snap or does it weakly crumble off? A glossy shiny bar along with a clean snap is a testament to a well-tempered bar of chocolate. It also means the flavours in the bar will stay strong allowing the fat(cocoa butter) to melt steadily over a longer time, releasing unique flavours(yummy!)
As you hold the chocolate, does it start to melt? Craft chocolate bars contain cocoa butter, which melts quickly at body temperature(37°C). Mainstream chocolate bars replace cocoa butter with cheaper fats that don’t melt smoothly, they crumble and flake into a sticky mess. Why do they sell the cocoa butter? Because the cosmetics industry pays a high price to use cocoa butter in moisturisers, lipsticks, etc. and it’s substituted with cheaper palm oil-based alternatives.
And now the “pièce de résistance” place a piece in your mouth and break with your teeth once or twice, and then just let it melt. All of the flavours of the beans are released as the cocoa butter melts. If you just chew it all straight away, you miss some tasting notes. A well-made craft chocolate bar will have several flavours at play and moving the chocolate around each corner of your tongue as it slowly melts lets you pickup specific flavours, building out the full chocolate eating experience.
Re-cap on how to taste craft choclate
First and foremost eating chocolate should be an enjoyable experience, so have fun with it. Don’t worry if you can’t taste the specific flavours other people describe, taste buds are subjective. We hope with this extra information on how to taste craft chocolate you can get maximum enjoyment out of each piece of craft chocolate you eat.
As you tase and sample more chocolate your taste buds will develop, we all have our own unique experience when tasting chocolate. Also, interestingly a piece can also taste different based on what you ate just before and during the day.
It will take time to discover your own likes & dislikes, so try lots of different chocolate makers, origins and percentages, because you never know what you’ll discover. Remember to have fun, share with your friends the bars you love supporting this growing industry in the process.
That’s a wrap for how to taste craft chocolate
Now you know how to taste craft chocolate are you curious about how it’s made? Find out how bean-to-bar chocolate is made here.
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