Friday, January 16, 2009

A Lesson On Chocolate

I think I've mentioned before that I'm a chocolate snob. I didn't used to be. Used to be that anything that claimed to be chocolate was fine by me. Hershey's, Twix, Nestle, Reese's... as long as there was chocolate involved, life was good. Back then, Russel Stover or Whitman's was a big treat. Back then, I hated dark chocolate. How could anyone eat it? It tasted like dirt, it was too bitter. I think I heard once that your tastes change every 7 years or something. My tastes have definitely grown up and I am hoping that don't grow back! *** I'll start with easy to find good chocolate. Lindt Ghirardelli Both are easily available in most retail locations. Both are good quality, and even sometimes really great, chocolate. I prefer Ghirardelli when baking (prefer to generic or Nestle). Currently at my desk, I have Lindt Intense Pear. It's dreamy. Perfect for that combination of sweet, fruity, and chocolatey. Of course, there are also the lesser known brands. The harder to find. Patric This isn't at the top of my list but it is a good chocolate. Thanks to my friend Christy, my desk drawer has a bar of 70% Madagascar Sambirano Valley. Vosges I have a very unique bar that I know many will turn their noses up at (or stick their tongues out at). It sounded very odd- which is why I had to buy it. It was a good gamble because I really love it. Enchanted Mushroom. 66% cacao, reishi mushrooms, walnuts. Sounds weird but it's really good. Umami and all that. Santander This was a real treat to discover. It just sounded interesting and ended up being a favorite. It's all gone now... sad... Looking at the website, there are lots of other things to try from this brand. And something cool about the Santander website... once you click into a product, it shows a graph. I have no clue where the data comes from or even how to specifically read the measurements. But it is still a cool tool to give you an idea of the taste of the product, of the components and texture. And a shout out to Trader Joe's! My favorite chocolate treat are the french truffles. They are only sold during the colder months of the year. They are dreamy. But I've yet to really go wrong with a dark chocolate product from Trader Joe's. ***

Let's learn about dark chocolate, shall we?

Chocolate is made from the cacao pod. Inside the pod are beans. The edible part of the bean is called the nib. Unsweetened chocolate, generally used in baking, is made of pure chocolate nibs with nothing added to it. Dark chocolate adds fat and sugar. The percentage listed on the package tells you the amount of pure cocoa in the product- the remainder is usually cocoa butter and sugar. Dark chocolate also contains no milk product. Unsweetened chocolate tastes yucky. Dark chocolate tastes divine. The purer, the better. *** There are oodles of brands out there that Christy and I have yet to try. Some we've read about and drooled over. But mostly we have a list. As we discover new chocolates, I'll share our thoughts. And if you discover a chocolate that you think is interesting or you try something truly delicious, please share!

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