The bitter taste of dark chocolate is unmatched in excellence when savoured with proper attention!
Organic dark chocolate has earned a reputation for being a bitter outlier in the world of sweet delights. But is this grown-up avatar of the food of gods confined to just one unidimensional flavour? Absolutely not! If you are impressed by the fact that strawberries have 400 flavour components, get ready to be amazed by more than 1200 flavour components of chocolate. The determinants – soil and climate – give organically grown cocoa beans its inimitable aroma and taste that could range from nutty to fruity to earthy. And since the love for chocolate among us is eternally rising, it has created ample scope for craft chocolate makers to play around with cocoa and different ingredients, fusing it to enhance your palate for dark chocolate. But before we get down to exploring eclectic and fun flavours commercially available in the market, let’s figure out …
… how to taste dark chocolate:
Just like tasting fine wine, there is a specific set to tasting dark chocolate. Most consumers, unfortunately, aren’t aware of it or are simply too impatient to break down the process of devouring their chocolate bar, thus missing out on the delightful notes of the creation. To enjoy a piece of high-quality dark chocolate, you must pay attention to not just its base flavour but also its delicate notes, texture, and aroma. Next time, try following these steps:
i. Make sure you have cleaned your palate of any remnants of food that has a strong taste. Drink some water, or eat a piece of bread or a slice of an apple.
ii. Observe the texture of the surface of the dark chocolate. Signs of old chocolate or chocolate that has not been stored in appropriate conditions include a visible layer of hazy fat bloom, crystallized sugar, or cracks and dots in the surface of the chocolate. Good quality dark chocolate (or any sort of chocolate) will have a smooth and shiny surface.
iii. Check for even-colouring of the chocolate
iv. Listen to the snap the piece of the organic dark chocolate makes when break the chocolate bar. While inorganic chocolate contains preservatives that make the chocolate bendable and clayey, good quality organic dark chocolate with a high concentration of cocoa lends it firmness. Thus, the audible snap is a testimony to the purity of the chocolate bar.
v. Take a note of the aroma with a big sniff. Dark chocolate contains complex compounds a few of which (including 4-ethyloctanoic acid, methylpropanoic acid, and acetic acid) give it a distinct aroma that could be classified as nutty, fruity, earthy, or floral. An improperly stored chocolate bar would have taken up the aromas of other food in its surroundings.
vi. Don’t just bite into it! I know it’s how most commercials show chocolate bars are eaten, but tasting dark chocolates requires more patience. So take a small piece and place it on your tongue instead. The temperature of your body melts the chocolates releasing their flavours slowly, preventing the bitter taste of polyphenols from overpowering your taste buds.
The texture of the chocolate in this stage is just s as important. A good quality dark chocolate will have a smooth and silky texture. Lower quality chocolate would leave a grainy or waxy feel in your mouth.
How to choose the best dark chocolate:
The best bet would be to always opt for organic dark chocolate. Any food without synthetic chemicals will anyway have a more authentic and wholesome flavour. Another easy filler is to look for single-origin dark chocolate which having been produced using cocoa beans from just one particular region retains the inherent flavour of the cocoa pods. Brands that specialize in craft chocolate are gaining popularity and can be found in certain grocery stores, cafes, and specialty shops. You could even try looking them up online (and even chance upon a discount or two!) since most of them provide home delivery options.
Here are a few other pointers that can help you pick good dark chocolate off the rack –
Percentage of cocoa in the dark chocolates: To experience the authentic taste of dark chocolate, pick a bar that has 70% cocoa. 64% cocoa tastes great if you are not too accustomed to bitter taste, but anything lower will have more sugar content which is not desirable.
Check the ingredients: the first ingredient (and therefore the primary bh of the chocolate bar) listed should be cocoa liqueur. This is the melted and separated cocoa fat that is formed during the process of grinding cocoa nibs.
Which flavours go best with dark chocolates?
Now that you know how to choose and pick good quality dark chocolates, here is some food you can combine it with and take the treat to another level of deliciousness! Craft chocolate brands such as RUSHK Chocolates is already selling out combinations such as orange and cinnamon organic dark chocolate, hazelnut dark chocolate, hemp hearts dark chocolate, cranberry dark chocolate, and is working on new combinations to delight their consumers. While you should definitely try these out, you can make your own combinations too. Try these for instance:
- Sweet and citrus fruits: bananas, strawberries, cranberries, oranges, raisins, etc. create a beautiful balance with the bitterness of dark chocolate
- Roasted nuts: Traditionally an elite addition to any dessert all over the globe
- Cheese: Gouda, aged cheddars, Havarti and Parmigiano-Reggiano are what connoisseurs recommend.
- Strong coffee: dark chocolate and coffee both contain caffeine and are grown in similar conditions, they have complementary flavours as well.
- Wine: dark chocolates with different percentages of cocoa go with different strengths of wine. In simpler words, the darker the chocolate darker should be the wine.
Dark chocolate is so much more than just a dessert. It’s a combination of complex compounds each with its own characteristics that must undergo several thorough treatments involving grinding, winnowing, and tempering to attain the desired texture, taste, and aroma. Its properties can alter with the soil it is grown in, and the climate of the region. Its storage is just as important in preserving its quality. It only natural that any time we choose to enjoy this delicate delicacy, we should take it nice and slow, and pay attention to every aspect of pleasure that can be derived from dark chocolate.