The Sophisticated Buyers Guide to Chocolate

Not just because it’s chocolate, it’s good; maybe when you’re five years old, it does not matter that much"chocolate is chocolate is chocolate. But when you’re a little older, your taste matures, and you’re expected to have a little "sophistication" especially when it comes to something as luxurious as chocolate. Not knowing your Hershey from your Valrhona might make you miss some of the most pleasurable chocolate experiences in life. Below are simple guidelines to make you become more discriminating when it comes to picking your chocolate.

Looking at Chocolate From the Outside

The easiest way to fake your upscale chocolate taste is to simply buy the most expensive or the pricier ones, or to buy something that sounds French, Belgian, anything European, foreign or exotic. But this is entirely missing the point of experiencing dark chocolate at its finest. Learning about what makes a chocolate a chocolate is key to truly appreciate the good quality ones from the crass mass produced ones.

Using Your Senses

The best way to know if a chocolate is of excellent quality is to use and engage all of your senses: Your sight, your touch, your smell, and of course, your taste. The chocolate should have a slight sheen on the surface and should be able to reflect light. When you break the chocolate into two, the edges should be compact and smooth, not crumbled and dry. Dry edges indicate that the chocolate was not stored properly. Immediately after breaking the chocolate, smell the chocolate. If it smells slightly metallic, this means that artificial, not pure vanilla was used. Artificial vanilla will also make the chocolate taste metallic. Bite the chocolate and let it melt in your tongue. If it leaves your mouth dry, the chocolate is too astringent. Oily or greasy residue on your fingers is an indication that the chocolate was made with milk fat and not cocoa butter.

Know What’s Inside

Low quality milk chocolate has more sugar, milk and lecithin than it has chocolate! Good quality ones have high cacao concentration levels, are made of natural ingredients and flavors, and are ideally made by hand. Like good wine, premium chocolate can also be expensive and can reach up to $100 a pound, but there are also fairly affordable high quality chocolate available for less than $10.

Know Where it Comes From

Chocolate producing countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, and France make their chocolates distinct and unique to their country. For these countries, they take chocolate manufacturing very seriously, even setting up strict standards for chocolate production to assure only the finest chocolates made with top quality ingredients and techniques. In France, for instance, the use of vegetable or animal oil is prohibited in making chocolates. The minimum allowable percentage for cocoa liquor contained in the chocolate should be 43 , while some French chocolates even reach 80 cocoa liquor content. Manufacturers are also required to make use a minimum of 26 pure cocoa butter. For Belgians, they still make use f traditional techniques to make chocolate, made by hand and with only natural ingredients.

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About The Author, Chris Alleny
Chris Alleny writes about various subjects including food. For more information on fine homemade gourmet chocolates visit