Posted 9th Oct 2017 by Peter Byrne
National Chocolate Week runs between 9th and 15th October, and gives us the chance to indulge
When it comes to tasting chocolate, there are a few tips to bear in mind that takes our chocolate experience to a whole new level. Lily O'Brien's experts share their tips with us to make sure you get the most out of chocolate tasting.
There are four key body parts that are required for chocolate tasting - these are the eyes, nose, ears and mouth.
The chocolate must look good. It should have a glossy shine to its surface, which will be as a result of the cocoa butter. If there are any cracks, smudges or pale streaks, this will mean either the cocoa butter is not properly mixed or the chocolate will have been stored in a room that's too hot.
A good chocolate should have a crisp snack when its broken - break it close to your ear to hear it. The Beta 5 crystal will be produced during the tempering of cocoa beans, providing chocolate with the ability to crunch and snap when its broken. White chocolate will not have the sharp snap as there's no cocoa beans in the recipe, only cocoa butter, which doesn't contain the Beta 5 crystal.
Each cocoa bean and plantation will have different flavours as a result of their geography, seasons and the habitat in which they're grown. Therefore, you should try smelling it before eating it to see if you can recognise the flavours - it should not smell either sweet or sugary.
The next step is the most important. Place the chocolate on your tongue before immediately holding your nose. It's commonly believed the tongue is imperative to tasting but this is not the case - as the chocolate melts a little, release the nose and breathe. The cocoa bean's mixed flavours will then come flooding through.
Taste your chocolates in bitter to sweet order - Dark, Milk then White. Start with the sweetest dark and work your way to bitter. If your chocolates are flavoured you should taste the delicate flavours (fruit or flower) before moving on to the stronger ones (chilli and coffee).
1 Avoid the strong flavours before you eat chocolate. Flavours such as coffee and tobacco can impair your ability to taste the flavours of the cocoa bean.
2 Cleanse your palate before you start eating. Bread, water or nuts all act as ideal palate cleanses.
3 Chocolate should be enjoyed slowly. To identify and make the most of the flavours, eat yours at a steady pace.
4 Storing chocolate is crucial - if it's done at the wrong temperature it can ruin the taste. Ensure chocolate is stored in a cool place which isn't the fridge - if chocolate is suddenly warmed and then cooled, it can spoil and lose its texture and flavours.