Poco Dolce's Tips for Tasting Chocolate
In honor of National Chocolate Day (today) and the completion of our Dogpatch Store’s Annual Manufacturing Day Store Demo (Oct. 2), we're kicking off our new blog with some tips on how to get the most out of your chocolate tasting experience. Along with these, we will share some fun pairing ideas for your next get-together.
Tasting chocolate is a lot like tasting wine, so you’ll notice some similarities in our tips below. Like wine, there are a many factors in how a chocolate tastes - from cacao percentages, to origin, to blend. Familiarize yourself with the chocolate and read what's on the label:
Percentage is the percent of the chocolate which is pure cacao mass, the remainder can be cocoa butter, sugar, dairy, etc.
- For example : 70% = 70% cacao mass + 30% cocoa butter, sugar, dairy, etc.
- Origin describes the country or region where the cacao is grown
- Blend is usually the combination of multiple origins or roasting methods into one
Pro Tip: Ingredients like palm oil are inexpensive 'fillers' that are a substitute for using real cocoa butter. For high-quality chocolate, you will likely recognize most ingredients; butter, sugar, milk, cocoa butter, and soy lecithin (which is an emulsifier) are pretty common.
You’ll want to have a selection of 4-6 chocolates - this will be the theme of the chocolates you’re tasting. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Choose chocolates from the same country or region
- Choose a variety of different percentages from low 38% to high 70%
- Choose chocolates with different ingredient profiles
Pro Tip: If you have the chance, try a tasting of an assortment of 70% chocolates to see how the same percentage can still taste very different.
Once you’ve picked out your chocolate selection,
- Have a palate cleanser on hand, such as a glass of water or plain crackers
- Look at the chocolate and see that it's unblemished
Sometimes chocolate stored improperly can have bloom, which isn't harmful, but can change the texture and look unappetizing.
- Break off a piece of the chocolate - you should be able to hear a sharp snap.
*Note that some blends or flavors will produce a softer chocolate and produce less of a snap (our Olive Oil Bar is a great example.)
- Smell the chocolate beforehand for its aroma. Like tasting wine, this helps to enhance taste.
- Place the piece of chocolate on your tongue and let it come up to your body temperature.
Let the chocolate evolve in your mouth. Notice how the taste changes while it melts on your tongue.
These tips could be used in any tasting scenario, but an integral part of any tasting is picking out the right chocolates. Browse below for assortments of Poco Dolce's artisanal hand-crafted chocolates to start your search:
Chocolate is also fun to pair with so many things and we have a number of great pairings. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts with ideas on how to pair Poco Dolce bittersweet chocolates with just the right wines, cheeses, beers, and more!
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Happy National Chocolate Day