Globally, we consume seven million tons of chocolate each year and spend at least $110 billion US to feed our craving. The dreamy taste of chocolate is often described as other-worldly for many and leads to one becoming a chocoholic - a mostly benign addiction. Here are 17 insightful morsels to augment your chocolate experience.
1) The three main varieties of cocoa bean are Forastero, Criollo, and Trinitario. If the specific name of the cocoa bean from which the bar was made is listed on the bar’s label, this indicates more likely than not it is a quality brand.
2) Check the list of ingredients. The fewer the better. If there is a long list of ingredients, it is overly processed and not a quality brand.
3) Buy gourmet chocolates from a specialty chocolate shop. Store employees should know all about the ingredients, the manufacturing process and the sources.
4) Most of the confectionery industry buys beans in bulk from West Africa. Some of the higher quality beans come from Madagascar, the Caribbean, Ecuador and Vietnam.
5) The cheaper brands of chocolate contain palm oil instead of cocoa butter. In Europe, refined palates have influenced consumer laws. It is illegal for manufacturers who substitute various vegetable fats for cocoa butter to label their product as strictly “chocolate”. They must name them “chocolate flavor coating”, “compound chocolate” or “family chocolate”.
6) Some chocolate makers blend two or more types of cocoa beans to create a unique flavor. However, often this is done to mask the superficial taste of lower quality cocoa. Purists always prefer single bean chocolate.
7) For most people the slightly bitter taste of dark chocolate is not pleasant to the palate. Purists recommend you start with low cocoa percent dark chocolate and work your way up. In time your palate adjusts and the rich and refined flavor of dark chocolate will be appreciated.
8) For those with dairy intolerance or for vegans, almond, coconut and rice milk chocolates are available in most specialty shops.
9) Caramelized white chocolate has steadily been increasing in popularity. The chocolate is heated until the sugars caramelize. It is gold in color and has a toasted flavor.
10) Less than 1% of all chocolate produced is organic. The makers of this rare chocolate are in Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Madagascar.
11) Avoid refrigerating chocolate. Condensation immediately forms on the surface, slightly altering its texture, nudging sugars to the surface, and slightly diminishing the taste for finicky connoisseurs.
12) The art of chocolate tasting from Cocoa Runners:
“Place a small piece of chocolate on your tongue, and most importantly of all, don’t chew! You can bite it to help it melt a little, but the key to getting the most from your chocolate is to let it melt slowly on your tongue. Chocolate melts at just above body temperature, so if it’s been made well it should start to melt in the mouth quite quickly.
“As it melts, it will start to release flavours. Some chocolates have just a couple of identifiable flavour notes, but a well-made chocolate with great quality cocoa beans can take you on a real journey. It might be fruity, floral, earthy or spicy, but the chances are the flavours you pick up will evolve as the chocolate melts. The more chocolate you taste, the more you’ll find you’re able to pick out much more distinct flavours; cherries, jasmine, green bananas, balsamic vinegar, liquorice. They’re all there in chocolate.”
13) A quick overview on the benefits of cocoa:
“The consumption of a high amount of fruits and vegetables was found to be associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Epidemiologically, a similar relationship has been found with cocoa, a naturally polyphenol-rich food. Obviously, double blind randomized studies are difficult to perform with cocoa and chocolate, respectively. However, intervention studies strongly suggest that cocoa has several beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, including the lowering of blood pressure, the improvement of vascular function and glucose metabolism, and the reduction of platelet aggregation and adhesion.”
14) Top 5 Worst Dark Chocolate Bars:
1) Cadbury Royal Dark
2) Lindt Chili Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar
3) Newman’s Own Organics Orange 54% Dark
4) Lindt Lindor Dark Chocolate Truffles
5) Russell Stover Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Mint
Top 5 Best Dark Chocolate Bars:
1) Theo Salted Almond 70% Dark Chocolate
2) Endangered Species 72% Cacao With Forest Mint
3) Green & Black’s Organic 85% Cacao Bar
4) Alter Eco Dark Blackout 85% Organic Cacao
5) Fruition Chocolate One Hundred Percent Bar
15) The 13 most influential candy bars of all time ……. Nestle Milk Chocolate was introduced in 1875 ….. Cadbury Milk Chocolate was created in 1897 ….. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate launched in 1900 ….. Baby Ruth in 1921 ……. Milky Way in 1923 …….Snickers in 1930 …... http://time.com/8195/13-most-influential-candy-bars-of-all-time/
16) The Most Popular Candies in 20 Countries:
“The U.S. is the largest chocolate market in the world, and a big portion of the chocolate we buy comes in a colored candy coating. M&Ms are the best-selling candy in America, boasting annual sales of $673.2 million. And if you were rooting for Reese’s to take the top spot, don’t be discouraged—Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups come in at a close second.”
17) Top 10 Foods That Are Delicious with Chocolate
Dom Ramsey, Chocolate: Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic, Penguin Random House, 2016