Gourmet chocolates can be real masterpieces of culinary art; and like with a fine wine, knowing how to taste the many flavours and textures of luxury chocolate is a technique that will enhance your understanding, appreciation and hopefully your eating experience! These skills will also help you to tell the difference between truly magical chocolate and chocolate that is just well packaged.
As with everything in life, there is no universal recipe to enjoy chocolate: do it your way and make sure to get all the pleasure from it. However, if you want to try a more formal tasting, here’s some advice that we hope you’ll appreciate and that you can enjoy with your friends.
Each time our Master Chef creates a new collection of Belgian chocolates it takes me back to first principles.
Let’s start from the very beginning: the chocolate.
Find some fine chocolate, and buy different kinds: try milk, dark and white, possibly experimenting with chocolates that you’ve never had before. If you are milk-chocolate lover, don’t forget to include some dark or white in the assortment you get. Don’t be scared to include a few unusual flavours, for example, sea salt balances the sweetness of chocolate in a wonderful way, and pepper enhances the earthy notes of cacao.
The ideal temperature to enjoy gourmet Belgian chocolates is 20°C.
Eat with your eyes, arrange them in a pleasant way, such as laying them out so that you can see the progression from light to dark. Pay attention to the gloss and the colour of each piece, as this is often a clue to their taste. Remember: people’s perception is often dominated by what the eyes see.
Now that everything is arranged, analyse the chocolate and taste it:
Pay attention to Four Essential Elements: Look, Texture, Flavour and Aroma.
A praline that starts melting in your hand quickly indicates a high amount of cocoa butter, which is a good sign.
Step 1 – Biting the chocolate
When biting a chocolate with a shell, it should crack not crumble.
Soft chocolates will not display these characteristics.
Step 2 – Chewing the chocolate
Chew the chocolate in your mouth a few times.
Then push the chocolate to the top of your mouth.
Let the melted chocolate linger in your mouth and allow the flavours to come out.
Step 3 – Aftertaste
Swallow the chocolate and dwell on the sublime flavour that remains.
Length – every chocolate has a different length of after taste which helps to define it. A true connoisseur uses this to ensure that the correct balance of ingredients has been used.
Keep track of the chocolates you like with a tasting sheet.
Flavour: identify the main flavours you can taste.
Aftertaste: identify the aftertaste of the chocolate.
Lasts in mouth: how long does the flavour linger in the mouth: short medium, long?
Texture: what textures best define this chocolate inside and out.
And finally… repeat!
Take a bite of an unsalted cracker (or of a green apple) and a sip of water to clear the palate, then try the next chocolate.