While price, childhood memories and nostalgia may play important roles in the selection of chocolate, the only thing you really have to go on when you pick from the multitude of chocolate is the list of ingredients and appearance. We've created a handy guide that will help you to expand your chocolate knowledge.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE QUALITY CHOCOLATE
It’s all about the taste
Check out the packaging. If the chocolate is foiled, look for a foil that covers the chocolate completely and securely.
If the chocolate is wrapped in clear packaging, examine the shape and check out the surface of the chocolate. It should be smooth and glossy with a rich, even color.
Next, check the ingredients. If the chocolate is described as "chocolatey, chocolate flavored" or some kind of euphemism for "chocolate", it is not real chocolate. The first thing I do when I select a chocolate is flip it over and check the ingredients, all of which you should recognize.
FOR THE CHOCOHOLICS
Chocolate for the senses
Of course, once you bring home your chocolate, you can use all five senses to determine the quality – if this is a chocolate you’re going to buy again.
- Savor the aroma
The moment the product is unwrapped, a strong chocolate fragrance will waft through the air to the delight of your sense of smell.
- Hear the “snap”
Like the crack of a bat hitting a home run or a tennis racquet serving an ace, the chocolate should snap when you break it or bite into it. That’s the sound of a true high quality chocolate product.
- Feel the texture ("Mouthfeel")
Chocolate melts at 97°F. Its melting point is so close to that of the human body, it begins to melt the moment you place it in your mouth. That velvety texture you enjoy is the result of the chocolate melting evenly, without any lumps or graininess.
- Taste the full-bodied flavor
The rich, chocolatey flavor of gourmet chocolate cannot be duplicated. No wonder it has been referred to throughout history as “the food of the gods.” No wonder more chocoholics are born every day.
- Enjoy the afterglow
Premium chocolate leaves a pleasant, mellow taste. Solid, hollow, combined with other flavors, it is a delicacy to be savored.
The ingredients in dark chocolate vary, depending on the percentage of pure cocoa that is used. To warrant the title “dark, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate,” the product must contain at least 35% chocolate liquor. With the current fanfare about the nutritional value of concentrated cocoa, (the high level of antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease), chocolate manufacturers are offering many varieties of dark chocolate. Remember, the higher the cocoa concentration the less sweet the product.
With the current fanfare about the nutritional value of concentrated cocoa, the high level of antioxidants that may reduce the risk of heart disease, chocolate manufacturers are offering many varieties of dark chocolate.
Remember, the higher the cocoa concentration the less sweet the product.
Real milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 3.66% milk fat (butterfat), 12% milk solids and at least 10% chocolate liquor. Remember, the higher the cocoa concentration the less sweet the product.
Not to be confused with white chocolatey confections which have no cocoa butter at all, real white chocolate consists of cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat, milk solids, lecithin and flavorings. White chocolatey confections are a blend of vegetable fat, milk solids, sugar, lecithin and flavorings. They are a great substitute for people who are allergic to any form of real chocolate