Chocolate connoisseur? Become a sophisticated sampler of dark chocolate
Of course you know how to eat chocolate - who doesn't? But as you indulge on your dark chocolate bar, are you really getting the most enjoyment out of it? Are you really tasting it, or just devouring it at warp speed?
Chocolate is a wonderful indulgence, and can be a great way to take a quick break from life's hectic pace. Much like wine tasting, there is an art to experiencing dark chocolate. By learning to be a more observant and descriptive taster, you can enjoy dark chocolate even more than you already do.
Tasting dark chocolate is all about slowing down and letting the chocolate engage all your senses, according to Alice Medrich, an expert on chocolate. "Open your mind to any thoughts, ideas or descriptions that may occur to you as you taste," she says.
Medrich offers a few tasting techniques to help get the most out of your dark chocolate experience:
- Break off a little piece and listen to the sound of the break. That "snap" stimulates anticipation for the taste and pleasure to come, but a sharp snap is also one of the criteria for good dark chocolate.
- Rub the piece with your thumb to warm it and release its aroma. Cup it in your hands and sniff. Some of the first clues of the flavor are in the nose.
- Place the piece in your mouth and, without chewing, move it around on your tongue. This will cause your mouth to fill with flavor. Savor the melt and notice the texture. More premium chocolates will have a smooth texture.
- Chew the chocolate slowly. Allowing more time with each of the various flavors intensifies the experience. What you taste first is different from what you'll taste later, so slow down and enjoy.
Appreciating good dark chocolate is easy once you have these tips on how to truly savor every bite. Using these newfound skills, you can choose Ghirardelli's next Intense Dark flavor. Starting now through September 20, visit www.newintensedark.com to vote for the consumer-inspired flavor that excites your taste buds most. The flavor that receives the most votes will be produced by Ghirardelli in early 2011.
Medrich, along with two other expert judges -- Jonathan Lindenauer from "Bon Appétit" magazine and Ghirardelli's own head chocolate maker, Kevin Tamaki -- hand-picked the competing five finalists from nearly 14,000 flavor submissions.
"I looked for flavors and textures that work so well together, that the combination seems even greater than the sum of the parts," says Medrich. "I like the chocolate to be the star and the last flavor on my palate and am hoping for flavors that enhance without overwhelming the chocolate. This contest is all about balance, taste and imagination." Visit www.newintensedark.com to imagine what the new flavors could be like, and to cast your vote.
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