This article is also known as The Guide to Impressing Your Friends by Leading a Craft Chocolate Tasting, which you can find at the bottom of the page.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of chocolate, you need to make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with what craft chocolate is and the reasons why it’s preferable to use craft chocolate rather than any old bar you get in the shop.
But directing a tasting of artisan chocolate isn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as it may seem, any more than juggling balls or going on a solo trip is. The first thing you need to do is give it a go.
- 1 What is a Tasting Note?
- 2 3 Tips to Start Tasting Today
- 3 Bitter Chocolate & Other Complaints
- 4 How Experts Taste Chocolate
- 5 Considerations When Conducting a Tasting
- 6 FAQs
What is a Tasting Note?
There is a vast variety of tastes available, and each individual has a palate that is uniquely suited to their preferences. Even the names given to well recognized tastes might differ from one person to the next. But first, let’s talk about taste; after all, there really is no accounting for it, is there?
To tell you the truth, there is. The olfactory receptors in your nose and mouth are primarily responsible for the interpretation of taste, as it is experienced by humans. The aroma is the primary component of every taste. Think back to the last time you had a cold and how congested your nose made it difficult for you to taste anything. Or how about the time you indulged on a delectable dessert but neglected to clean your teeth before sneezing? Suddenly, you found yourself savoring dessert once again. This dulling or reviving of taste is made possible by the fact that the parts of your body that are most sensitive to flavor are located in your nose.
A tasting note is a one-of-a-kind mix of a chocolate’s five fundamental tastes and its texture, as perceived by your taste buds and via your own individual experiences and recollections. Because no two individuals’s past experiences are identical, it follows that no two people will ever have the same impressions of the flavor notes included in a bar of artisan chocolate.
What Are the Five Basic Flavors?
There is a lot of controversy around the fundamental tastes that may be detected in food. Since ancient times, people have believed that there are five basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and, more recently, umami (meaty/savoury). Nevertheless, researchers in this day and age are furthermore looking for evidence of fat taste receptors. But think of the most delicious piece of chocolate you’ve ever eaten.
Was it simply one of those tastes, or a combination of them all together? Your brain has a natural desire for foods that are complex since, in the past, this has traditionally signaled a meal that was more nutritionally balanced. A quality chocolate bar will have tastes that are intricately entwined with one another. Each of the five conventional building blocks has its own subtle nuances that come through when combined.
Tannin, flowery, fudge, creamy, nutty, bitter, earthy, red fruit, and citrus are some of the more typical characteristics that may be recognized in chocolate. These flavors are often referred to as “tasting notes.” Because each of them is itself a combination of fundamental tastes, identifying the differences between them may be difficult. In order to correctly recognize these tastes, you will need to depend on your previous encounters with them.
Although some may seem to be self-explanatory, such as the term “citrus,” the majority of the time, your palate will need to be trained (yes, this includes chocolate workouts!). Finally!) before you are able to recognize these subtleties on a constant basis. This way of tasting is comparable to the strategy that is used while tasting wine, and it is not the only one that is available.
3 Tips to Start Tasting Today
Finding the first five appealing bars on a shelf at the supermarket and then proceeding to the checkout line are not sufficient steps to do in order to organize a tasting. If it were so easy, then anybody who owned a Snickers bar or a bottle of Barefoot would be considered a chocolate expert, and anyone who had a bottle of Barefoot would be considered a wine expert. Distinction is the most important factor in running a successful tasting. Before you can limit down your options, you, as the chief taster, are going to have to put in the effort to sample a number of different chocolates. How are you ever going to be able to carry such a heavy load? First things first, before you even think of going shopping, you need to keep these three things in mind:
- Begin with lower percentages (60–70%, with the possibility of one little higher one at 75%).
- If the bar has flavor notes, choose one that describes the chocolate as “creamy,” “caramel,” and “floral.” Steer clear of bars that describe the chocolate as “earthy,” “tannins,” and “tobacco.”
- Try to find chocolate bars that are made from a single origin and have salt added to them, especially on the reverse side of the bar. The addition of salt makes the chocolate taste sweeter without removing as much of the chocolate’s flavor character as does the use of milk powder. In contrast to the majority of other sweetening components, salt does not need chewing, which contributes to its pleasant taste.
Even while intense flavor notes may sometimes be found in milk chocolates with a high percentage, the presence of milk powder has a tendency to make flavor notes less noticeable. Dark chocolates are where you’ll find the most subtle tastes, making them ideal for tasting. However, due to the fact that so many people have written off dark chocolate as being excessively bitter, this may mean that many people never taste or seek out the flavors associated with it.
But this is because, if you typically consume milk chocolates, there are some things you need do differently in order to locate, sample, and enjoy dark chocolates. When you go to the health food shop or the chocolate store the next time, keep these three things in mind: 60–70% cacao, taste notes that sound delicious, and a touch of salt on the back.
Bitter Chocolate & Other Complaints
Learn the difference between bitterness, tannins, and a mere absence of sugar if you want to truly enjoy your dark chocolate and be more educated when you taste it. This is another essential to actually being able to appreciate your dark chocolate.
Bitterness is a quality that may be found in grapefruit as well as in many other types of plants. People sometimes find themselves wanting to stretch out their tongues when they taste something unpleasant, maybe in the vain expectation that the offending ingredient would just slip right off. Tannins are found in high concentrations in red wine; the taste of tannins is what causes your lips to feel dry and causes you to lick them.
People are frequently misled into believing that something tastes bitter due to the mere absence of sugar in the food or drink in question. Sugary sweetness is something that we have learned to associate with chocolate, despite the fact that high-quality chocolate may or may not include sugar. However, a bar that is 70% chocolate has 30% sugar in it. If you find that a bar with a percentage of 70 percent cocoa does not taste sweet to you, this may be due to the high tannin content or the bitterness of the chocolate rather than a lack of sugar.
But the texture of a chocolate may also be of use to you in this regard: tannins have a stronger flavor in your tongue and a more present presence overall. The feeling of bitterness causes your face to pucker up, yet it has no practical impact on the situation. Sugar deficiency often merely comes as a surprise, but it need not always be a negative experience. There are occasions when unfavorable taste notes are merely the consequence of having a bad connection with certain natural flavors.
Although the addition of mushroom and earthiness may at first appear out of place, they are both capable of adding depth to the taste of an intricate chocolate. Another possibility is that you recently purchased or were given chocolate that was of poor quality. Some bars are better than others. The market is dominated by inexpensive chocolate, which is often produced using inexpensive cacao and has the potential to be contaminated if necessary precautions are not taken. Sometimes chemicals are mixed in, or there isn’t enough husk removed during the winnowing process, or the cacao wasn’t kept properly and mold formed on it, or there was sloppy sorting that resulted in debris being left in the chocolate. There are literally hundreds of different things that may go wrong, leaving you with an unpleasant chocolate flavor.
How Experts Taste Chocolate
Now that you have a better idea of what to look for when trying new chocolates, I’ll walk you through the process that I go through when writing a review of a bar of chocolate:
1.Check the back of the package for taste comments from the chocolatier, or even simply an origin, if you’re just getting started with chocolate. The customer may learn a great deal about the goods they are buying based on its country of origin. The taste patterns of beans from various sources might offer you a better notion of what to anticipate, even though not all beans from Papua New Guinea or Trinidad have a smokey flavor and not all beans from Madagascar have a fruity flavor. For those who are still exploring and developing their palates, it is a good idea to be aware of those who have tasted before you. More experienced tasters tend to avoid getting any preconceived flavor notions in their minds, but for those who are still exploring and developing their palates, it is a good idea to be aware of those who have tasted before you.
2. Remove the actual bar from its wrapping before eating it. Make a mental note of whether the inside wrapping made of metal, plastic, or paper appeals to you the most. Even on an unconscious level, it contributes to the overall quality of the experience. Nobody enjoys the frustrating task of trying to stuff chocolate into a shredded wrapper.
3. Take a whiff of the bar. Think about the unique odors and memories that it brings to mind, whether it be a certain fruit, a favorite meal, or a relative coming to visit from out of town. Memory has a significant role in the formation of both our sense of smell and, therefore, our sense of taste. Even if we do nothing more than put the aroma of a bar in a certain environment, this may assist us discover any concealed nuances. Put the bar down, or reseal it, and try to come back to it after a few minutes if at all possible, since the aromas that you detect may change somewhat after some time has passed.
4. Take a small piece of the bar and snap it in half, paying attention to whether or not it makes a clear cracking sound or just splits in two with very little drama. A good snap is an indication of well tempered chocolate, and it typically signifies that the tastes of a bar will continue to be robust, and the fat will melt consistently for a longer period of time, continuing to unleash its distinctive characteristics.
5. Put some of that chocolate in your mouth right now. You should mash it up a couple times with your teeth, and after that you should simply let it melt. When the cocoa butter melts, it releases all of the flavors of the cocoa beans that were previously trapped within. If you simply start chewing it right away, you can miss some really delightful flavor notes that are closer to the beginning of the experience. Some bars have an odd, disagreeable aspect that you can’t quite put your finger on, and often, that’s a clumpy melt, which may also make it more difficult to distinguish certain tastes. If it’s a good chocolate bar, it will have many tastes going on at once, and as you melt the bar in your tongue, the flavors will transition from one to the next. Because recent studies have shown that different parts of the tongue have varying degrees of sensitivity to different tastes, it is important to move the chocolate nub about on your tongue so that it contacts all of the different corners.
6. After the bar has been largely finished and the chocolate has melted, you may think about how the “finish” is, which refers to whether or not the taste of the bar lingers in your tongue and what that flavor, or those flavors, are. You may take a few drinks of water and go in for another taste if you’d like whenever it seems like the “finish” is about to be completed. You never know what you could discover this time around!
7. Keep in mind that this is, in fact, chocolate. Have a good time with it. It will take some time before you can acquire a sensitive palate and have a sense of your own preferences for food and drink. Because you never know what you’ll discover, it’s best to experiment with a wide variety of manufacturers, sources, and percentages.
Considerations When Conducting a Tasting
Different things appeal to people’s senses of taste. It would be beneficial for each buddy or participant to have their own tasting journal. Ask everyone to jot down the tastes they experience in each bar during the period of silent tasting, and then compare your notes at a later time (maybe over a glass of wine!). One minute of peace and quiet should be plenty for each bar, and you should try not to overstuff your taste buds by consuming too many bars in quick succession (5-7 is a good number for a tasting).
Blind tastings are a fun and engaging approach to better discern each individual’s one-of-a-kind flavor profile. We are able to make better use of our taste receptors when we are not distracted by things such as fancy packaging or particular percentages. To make your tasting event a blind one, you need to take the chocolates from their packaging and place them on separate plates, using the number on the plate as the sole means of determining which chocolate is whose. If there are any recognizable forms or names in the mold, you should try to conceal them by chopping it up into little bits. Hold on to the key, and only expose the bars at the very end, but only after others have had a chance to guess which bar was which!
When tasting a range of various percentages, when you initially begin doing tastings, organize the lineup with the greatest percentages of cacao tasted first. This will ensure that you get the most accurate representation of the range. If there are any inclusions, they should be added in very last, bearing in mind the proportion of cacao used in the recipe the whole time. This is because people have a propensity to perceive something as being more bitter if it has a lower level of sweetness compared to its predecessor. Additionally, the robust tastes of inclusions have a tendency to impact any flavors that are experienced after them.
Maintain a healthy level of skepticism while being open to “rustic” chocolate. If you are looking for something tasty, you will undoubtedly come across bars that are described as having an old-fashioned or rustic atmosphere. This is referring to the consistency, which will be unlike the traditional silkiness that you have probably come to associate with chocolate. The texture will be more grainy. It’s possible that when you hear the word “rustic,” you’re thinking of one of two things: either a bar that’s made of 100% chocolate and contains the specified amount of sugar as whole crystals, or the processing level of the bar, which results in the bar being very grainy and frequently high in sugar content. For the sake of tasting, I would consider both approaches to fall under the category of “inclusion.” The different textures are likely to give you a little bit of a headache.
A helpful hint: the process of tasting cocoa beans is really very similar to the process of tasting finished chocolate, with the exception that less emphasis is placed on the snap and none at all on the melt. The distinction in the tastes that are present in the scent and those that are experienced on the tongue is an essential aspect to take into consideration. Both categories have the ability to reflect tastes that are represented in the finished product; nonetheless, the finished product will always have its own distinct flavor. On the other hand, I must caution you to brace yourself. Prepare yourself mentally for beans, which are seldom pleasant and more often than not harsh or astringent in flavor.
Please read this article for information on how to purchase artisan chocolate.
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How do you start a chocolate tasting?
How to Plan for a Chocolate Tasting Party
Provide writing implements like pencils and markers and top each box with a single chocolate. You may assist direct your visitors by printing out information about each chocolate. For the in-between, provide a glass of water and some apples, as well as some bread. Serve wine with the chocolate for a delicious treat.
What are the six steps of chocolate tasting?
Test your chocolate like a professional in just six steps
- STEP NUMBER 1 – APPEARANCE. …
- STEP NUMBER 2 – BREAK. …
- STEP NUMBER 3 – SMELL. …
- STEP NUMBER 4 – TEXTURE. …
- STEP NUMBER 5 – TASTE. …
- STEP NUMBER 6 – CONCLUSION.
How do you taste a chocolate bar?
When you break off a piece of the bar, the snap that the chocolate makes will indicate whether or not it is ready to be consumed and whether or not it was tempered correctly. Try out some of that chocolate! Put it on your tongue, and let it to dissolve on its own! If you find that the taste is enhanced by chewing it after it has softened somewhat in your tongue, give it a go.
What is a chocolate taster called?
Therefore, despite the fact that some of my contemporaries may have obtained an official chocolate taster certificate from the International Institute of Cacao and Chocolate, I believe that in order for them to legitimately lay claim to the title of “chocolate sommelier,” they must have worked in a position of service.
What makes chocolate yummy?
Chocolate is known to include a variety of fascinating psychotropic compounds inside its composition. Among these is the neurotransmitter known as anandamide, which gets its name from the Sanskrit word “ananda,” which translates to “joy, bliss, or delight.” Anandamides have a psychoactive effect on the brain that is comparable to that of cannabis.