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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Elbow’

Cocoa Dance: happy little hops of joy done upon receiving something chocolate.

The dance I did when I received these beauties:

Chocolate jewels from Christopher Elbow.

This world-class chocolatier just happens to operate from Kansas City. And the Mr. just happened to stop by the retail store downtown. And since Valentine’s Day and our anniversary are so close together, he – very very wisely – picked up this treasure box for me.

Now, as tempting as it may be to hork down little chocolate candies in a cacao-induced feeding frenzy, one must resist. There is actually a bit of an art to truly appreciating fine chocolate. Much like wine and coffee, chocolate is a complex creation, influenced by growing conditions, location, processing and more. So to truly get the most out of a good chocolate, you need to go through a tasting ritual that’s similar to a wine tasting or coffee cupping.

We first discovered this tasting process with chocolates from Vosges.

You might feel a little silly doing it at first, but when the different and subtle flavors roll over your tongue, and your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure, you’ll thank me.

Note: Chocolate purists will tell you to only bother with pure chocolate – to stay away from chocolates that have nuts and other flavors mixed in because it takes away from the pure chocolate experience. But I think they just say that so they can keep all the flavored chocolates away from us and enjoy them in little secret tasting parties we’re not invited to. Go ahead – try this on any good chocolate you want.

These instructions are from adapted from Vosges. They can be applied to truffles or “exotic candy bars.”

See… there should be a glossy shine to the chocolate, this shows a good temper: a tight bond between the cocoa butter and the cacao mass.

Smell… rub your thumb on the chocolate to help release the aromas. Inhale the chocolate and ingredient notes deeply through your nose.

Snap… quality chocolate should always be dry to the touch. If the chocolate is stored at ideal conditions, between 63-65 degrees Fahrenheit, when you take a bite you should hear a crisp, ringing snap breaking through the outside to reach the creamy ganache inside.  (You can sort of see the creamy ganache of this Lavender Chocolate truffle, even though the lighting is too yellow:

Taste… place the chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Within thirty seconds, the chocolate should slowly begin to melt around your tongue. The taste should not be evanescent; it should have a long, lingering finish. Make note of the different flavors and when they appear.  When I tasted this Masala Chai truffle:

The clove notes hit first, followed by cinnamon, then possibly cardamom and a little pepper.

Breathe…I’m adding this last instruction. Before you swallow the chocolate, breathe in a little bit through your mouth. This aspiration helps spread the taste across your whole tongue, allowing you to taste more of the subtleties in the chocolate.

Vosges has a nifty little sensory wheel you can download to guide you through a tasting experience.

To find out what a cocoa dance really is, check out the handy chocolate glossary at The Nibble.

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