Preparation of roasted and ground cacao seeds to create a liquid, paste or a block is the basis of chocolate. The process of slowly grinding the cacao seeds into a smooth paste is called ’conching’ and a good quality chocolate will have been conched for at least 72 hours. Then highly skilled chocolatiers produce an amazing diversity of chocolate bars and treats.
Around the world in recent years there has been a trend towards single origin bean to bar chocolate. This means the chocolatier has sourced the cacao bean directly from the farmer and used only that bean to produce a bar of chocolate. These bars will be named according to the country (or regional area) the chocolate was grown in.
Like wine, the cacao tree will produce a bean with a different flavour depending on what climate it is grown in. The variety in beans produced in different climates led to a Belgian-Swiss company Barry Callebaut developing a trademarked ‘ruby chocolate’, by sourcing a particular bean with certain qualities that allows it to be made into a naturally coloured ruby chocolate.
The test of a true chocolate bar is made when you open the wrap and break a piece off. You should hear a clean snap and the remainder of the bar will remain intact. Then when tasting, let it rest in your mouth on your tongue and allow your natural body temperature to heat it up and the flavour come through. Try not to bite, quickly chew and then swallow – unless you really don’t like it!
Be forgiving of chocolate with a low % of cacao or made with coconut/nut milk – they will not have the same snap, however an artisan product will still deliver an amazing flavour range as you eat it.