Filed under Culture
Written by Jo Hombsch
Have you ever found yourself taking a stroll down the chocolate aisle only to be inundated by chocolate brands and an ever-growing number of chocolate bars and then, end up standing there staring at them all wondering which is a good one?
I am sure we’re all well aware there is chocolate, then there is CHOCOLATE.
But what separates the waste of calories from the creamy pieces of heaven. As I recently found out Remco Brigou, or aka Koko Black’s Head Chocolatier there is a big difference between the two and it all comes down to the ingredients.
Remco knows a thing or two about chocolate, having grown up in Belgium, who is “Famous because we invented the filled chocolates called Pralines. Along the way, Belgians also improved the process of making the actual chocolate.”
Get To Know Your Chocolate
Before understanding good chocolate Remeco insists it’s important to understand chocolate and how it is made.
To Remeco “Chocolate is just happiness you can eat!” Although technically “Chocolate is made from the cocoa-bean by fermenting it, drying it, roasting it and then mixing it into a paste, blending it with sugar and if required, milk powder.”
So how are these delicious pieces of pure happiness made? Remeco explains “The first step is roasting the beans, this is a vital step in creating the final taste and aroma of the chocolate.”
“After the beans are roasted, they are broken up into cocoa nibs (pieces of cocoa bean) and the husk of the bean which is discarded. The nibs contain a high percentage of fat which we call cocoa butter (average around 55%). When we grind up the nibs this fat will turn this into a dark brown, bitter paste which we call cocoa mass. This cocoa mass is the base of chocolate. We then mix this cocoa mass with sugar to create the actual chocolate.”
Then comes the percentage… So why does a bar of chocolate have a percentage on it?
It all comes down to the percentage of cocoa, “For example a 70% dark chocolate, it means that the chocolate contains 70% of this cocoa mass, with the other 30% sugar and or milk powder depending on the type of chocolate.”
How To Tell If It’s The Good Stuff?
So when you’re overwhelmed in the chocolate aisle next time, remember it all comes down the ingredient list.
Remeco mentions “Quality couverture chocolate should only contain cocoa mass (when its milk or dark chocolate), sugar, milk powder (for milk or white chocolate), Cocoa butter, lecithin (an emulsifier chocolate producers use), and the occasional natural vanilla aroma.”
He adds, “As soon as you see vegetable fat, it means it’s not a quality chocolate.”
“Another important thing to know is that when you look at the ingredient list from dark chocolate it also can’t contain any milk powder. For me, quality dark chocolate does not have any milk powder in it.”
Be Your Very Own Chocolatier
So what should we really be looking for?
- Shine: It should have a nice shine to it
- Snap: When you break or bite into a chocolate it should have a nice ‘snap’
- Taste: It should be nice and smooth on the tongue and not at all grainy in texture
- Melting point: When you melt down good chocolate it should be nice and fluid because again cocoa butter, when melted down, is a very fluid fat
Follow these four steps next time you bite into a piece of chocolate, along with taking a look into the ingredients list and you’ll be well on your way into never eating a bad piece of chocolate ever again.
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