How to recognise fine chocolate

Know how to recognise high quality chocolate? You know the rituals around fine wine and aged malts, here are four things to look for when selecting chocolate, Cocoa bean, colour, smell and taste.

Cocoa There are 3 varieties of cocoa bean, Criollo,  Trinitarian and Foresero

  • Criollo – expensive, premium, and the most sought after.
  • Trinitario – aromatic with robust flavour, widely used
  • Foresero – Usually blended with other premium cocoa beans and used by the big manufacturers.

Colour  Look closely. Is it black or a reddish brown colour? Reddish brown is a characteristic of the Criollo cocoa bean rather than the cheaper foresters beans. Foresero beans need sugar added to make them palatable. You’re also looking for a glossy finish, no grains and when its broken a distinctive SNAP! 

Smell Your sense of smell is key to your sense of taste. You can get a good idea of what chocolate will taste like by spending a few seconds drawing in it’s aroma. The predominant aroma is of course cocoa/chocolate but cocoa also has a wide range of aroma’s including tobacco, molasses, grass, fruit and coffee .

Taste The most important way to judge good from bad chocolate is to taste it.You can bite into chocolate or let it melt on your tongue, each will release difference flavours so try one way and then another. You’re looking for caramel, butterscotch, liquorice and salt, may be able to taste coffee. These tastes are typical of good chocolate.

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