February 4, 2010

Tips for a Tasting from a Chocolatier

Wheatley, Valerie

By Valerie Wheatley, R.D., L.D., L.D.N
Hy-Vee Registered Dietician
(309) 787-0273
E-Mail: 1106dietitian@hy-vee.com

Ever wonder how a real chocolatier evaluates chocolate? He or she focuses on five qualities: appearance, aroma, texture, mouthfeel and flavor. You can practice being a chocolatier too in your own home with a gathering of friends and family.

All you need is an assortment of premium chocolates varying in cacao content and eager tasters to join in the fun. Following are some tips for tasting chocolate.

First look: Place bits of assorted chocolates on a plain-colored paper. Note the color of the chocolate. Look for shades of ivory, gold, copper, deep reds and charcoal brown. Color is influenced by the type of cream, percent of cacao and where the beans are grown.

Next smell: Dim the lights, and keep the aroma in the air pure by burning unscented candles. Rub the chocolate with your thumb to warm it. Now cup your hands and hold the chocolate close to your nose. Take slow, deep breaths inhaling the aroma of the chocolate. Some chocolates will have a faint aroma; others will smell sweet and rich. Others will smell nutty, fruity, spicy, bitter or earthy scents. All in all, a piece of chocolate can have over 600 different aromas.

Then listen: Snap the chocolate by breaking it fast. Chocolate with a high cacao content will break sharply and cleanly, while others will break more softly.

Finally taste: Take a small morsel and let it melt in your mouth. Experience the mouthfeel. Is it rich and succulent or waxy and hard? Roll it around with your tongue; appreciate the nuances of flavors. Some flavors will present immediately while other flavors penetrate over time. Every person experiences different taste sensations. Ask your guests about their experience.

Plan a chocolate tasting in your home. Look for expert advice from the real chocolatier’s websites: Hersheys.com, Verybestbaking.com and Ghirardelli.com.

Chocolate Espresso Parfaits
Sweeten your sweetheart’s heart with a tasty blend of dark chocolate and tofu.
All you need
1 (12-oz.) pkg. Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. Hy-Vee instant coffee diluted in 2 tbsp. water
2 (15-1⁄2-oz. each) pkgs. silken tofu
All you do
1. Place chocolate chips, vanilla and diluted coffee in microwave-safe dish; microwave on HIGH 4 minutes or until melted. Whisk until smooth.
2. Place tofu in blender or food processor; purée.
3. Add chocolate mixture; blend 1 minute until smooth. Pour into parfait glasses. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
Nutrition Facts: 250calories, 13 g fat, 30 g carbs, 7 g pro, 3 g fiber, 60 mg sodium.
Wine: Port or Framboise

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