Five Things You Need to Know about Chocolate
Our favourite sweet treat: chocolate.
Most of us adore chocolate and it can make life immeasurably better, yet it is far more than pure indulgence. Here are five things you need to know about the complexities of good chocolate to appreciate it even more.
- Chocolate melts at body temperature which makes the mouthfeel sensation so superbly satisfying, even sensual.
- There are up to 400 flavours in a piece of fine dark chocolate which might include floral, toasted bread, liquorice, tobacco, coffee, molasses, red fruit, citrus, tropical fruits and infinite delicate, bold or even robust combinations of flavour.
- The variety and origin of the cocoa beans as well as the way they are cultivated, dried and processed, i.e. from how they are stored after harvest; the roasting: not too harshly; the conching which should be long and slow; any blending, how carefully the chocolate is tempered (the point of tempering governs the crystallisation of the molecules in the chocolate so that only one type and size of crystal is present) to give a crisp, shiny and smooth texture - all these things affect the taste of the finished chocolate.
- Chocolate is an integral ingredient to a number of savoury dishes including Mexican mole and there even are Marmite or Port-and-Stilton-ganache filled chocolates.
- Couverture is a special kind of cooking chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa butter which gives a glossy sheen and clean snap to the finished chocolate used by professional chefs. Couverture comes in many forms from chocolate button sized pieces to 5kg bars. Home cooks should be able to purchase it although the standard version of good (the best affordable chosen to enhance the flavours of other ingredients) chocolate should work perfectly well.
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