Tasting fine quality chocolate engages all five of our senses, so how do you get the maximum enjoyment from the experience?
For me, food is not merely sustenance; it is one of life’s great pleasures. I have always believed that to truly enjoy food, it’s important to focus on the eating experience. So eating fine chocolate is best appreciated when all five senses are engaged. We all like to taste our favourite foods in our own way, but here’s my guide for how I believe luxury chocolate is best appreciated.
The mere sight of chocolate recalls memories of previous gastronomic pleasures and immediately evokes the desire to eat it! Whenever I see chocolate with an even surface and shine I know it is likely to be the best quality - smooth and fresh.
This relates mainly to chocolate bars (as there shouldn't be any sound when eating soft chocolates, such as ganaches and pralines). I listen carefully when I break into the chocolate. A crisp snap as I bring it close to my ear evokes the same eager anticipation of enjoyment as the soft fizzle of bubbles as champagne is poured into a flute, or the deep crunch when a French baguette is pulled apart. The crisp snap is an indication that the chocolate has been expertly tempered.
Next, I run my fingers over the chocolate. If the surface (known as 'couverture' with chocolate pieces) feels smooth to the touch it corresponds that the texture inside the mouth won’t be grainy or powdery; instead the mouthfeel will have the silky evenness that all truly fine chocolate should have.
Smelling chocolate before I eat it is intense and revealing, allowing me to concentrate on the aroma alone. Cocoa, with its vast variety of flavours, should always be the predominant aroma in chocolate. Any fruit or spice infusions will ideally complement, not overpower, the chocolate.
Now that I have an impression of the fruity, spicy, delicate or floral notes in the chocolate, I place a piece on the front of my tongue and allow it to melt and spread across the palate.
By taking the time to experience all that chocolate has to offer, I can truly derive maximum pleasure from it!
To find out more on this topic, take a look at this feature on how our senses affect the taste of food.
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