We know how you’ve been eating chocolate and it has to stop right now. You simply can’t go on mindlessly cramming it into your mouth, barely chewing or tasting it as your sticky fingers hurriedly click the “Continue watching” button on Netflix, four hours into an Orange is the New Black binge. Have some decency.
To rescue you from this wholly unattractive funk, we’ve enlisted the help of some top-of-their game chocolatiers. It turns out that, just like wine, chocolate is actually a very complex food. Well, the fancy stuff packed with cocoa solids, anyway. A number of factors can change the way it tastes, including the conditions that the cacao beans grow in and the nutrients in the soil. Fermenting and roasting also play an important part.
It needs to be stored properly in a cool place that's not the fridge, and mulled over as it’s eaten so you can identifying any fruity or nutty notes.
“Unlike wine, you don’t need to be a professional to enjoy good chocolate,” says Philippe Daue, the chef chocolatier of Godiva. “Anyone can appreciate amazing quality chocolate if they practice tasting it properly – and that means, eating more of it.”
Look before you taste
“All chocolate should have a glossy shine to its surface, and be free of any cracks, smudges or pale streaks of unmixed cocoa butter,” says Brandt Maybury, Taste Specialist at Green & Black’s.
Look-out for tiny bubbles that can be found in the corners and edges of the chocolate, indicating that not enough air was tapped out of the chocolate before it set, he adds.
Prep your taste buds
“Avoid strong flavours, such as coffee or tobacco, shortly before tasting, as they’ll impair your ability to detect subtle flavour notes,” advises Hotel Chocolat’s in-house chocolatier Kiri Kalenko.
Stop and smell the chocolate
“Rub the chocolate with your fingers three to four times to release the aromas first, and then smell the chocolate about an inch away from the nose,” says Daue. “The rich smell of the chocolate will help prepare your taste buds for the flavour to come.”
Don't scoff it all at once
“Take a small piece and let it melt in the mouth for five or six seconds - wait for it to spread around the mouth, and then chew," says Daue. "Keep the mouth closed and breath in through your nose – this empowers all of the senses for the most enjoyment."
Cleanse your palate
Eat something neutral, like bread or water, to reset your palate between sittings, says Kalenko “In our Inventing Room our chocolatiers use hazelnuts.”
Work your way down
“If you are tasting different chocolate bars, start with the highest percentage and work your way down,” says Jennifer Earle, who runs Chocolate Ecstasy Tours and regularly judges chocolate contests.
She adds: "If there are flavoured bars, save the strongest flavours, for instance chilli, mint or coffee, until last. Taste slowly with minimal chewing for maximum flavour. The flavour of one piece of any good chocolate can change as it melts in your mouth."