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Have you ever bitten into a chocolate bar that looks delicious only to discover it tastes like cardboard? When you’re buying chocolate, you want to make sure you’re getting the best quality chocolate possible. After all, who wants to bite into a piece of chocolate-flavored cardboard? You want that creamy chocolate goodness you can only get from high-quality chocolate. The truth is, choosing the best quality chocolate isn’t that hard. You can learn to spot the good stuff form a mile away.
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Here’s how to evaluate chocolate to find out if it’s a good quality.
1. Take a Look at the Ingredients
The ingredient list of chocolate is very important. Ideally, you should stick to as few ingredients as possible You’re looking for chocolates like include cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar with not a lot else. Cheap, lower-quality chocolates pack in extra ingredients, such as vegetable oils like palm, soybean, or cottonseed oil to keep costs low. Vegetable oil is cheaper than cocoa butter and easier to work with, but it doesn’t produce the same kind of creaminess cocoa butter can.
2. Check for Cacao
The cacao bean is the most important ingredient in chocolate. It’s what gives your chocolate its unmistakable flavor. Be sure that the chocolate you choose has the right amount of cacao for each type. Dark chocolate must contain over 70 percent cacao, while milk chocolate should have about 50 percent. White chocolate should also contain about 25 to 50 percent.
3. Check for Freshness
The freshness of your chocolate is also extremely important when it comes to the taste. Whenever you shop at the grocery store, check the sale by date. You’ll find this on the underside of the package. Unlike at the grocery store, you won’t always find a sale by date at a chocolate shop that makes their own chocolate in-store. If you can’t find such a date, be sure to ask the chocolatiers how long ago they made the candy. Most chocolate will last six to twelve months, so be sure you’ll be able to finish it before it goes bad.
4. Inspect the Chocolate
If possible, it’s always best to take a look at the chocolate before you purchase it. Good quality chocolate should appear glossy without blemishes or bubbles. White areas, cloudiness, and discoloration can indicate a lower-quality chocolate. This can occur because the fat works its way to the surface of the chocolate and crystallizes there due to improper handling or exposure to heat. This so-called “chocolate bloom” doesn’t indicate spoilage. However, it can effect the taste and consistency of the chocolate.
5. Try Some!
Some chocolate shops allow you to sample the candy. If you can, getting your hands on a piece of chocolate is the best way to test its quality. Here are three ways you can test the chocolate when you sample it:
- Smell it. It might seem obvious, but chocolate should smell like chocolate. Beware of other scents, such as a frozen or musty scent. Chocolate soaks up scents — and flavors — from other food it’s been stored with. The stronger the scent of chocolate, the better the chances the chocolate is high quality.
- Touch it. When you touch the chocolate, look for a silky texture. You want to avoid anything that feels sticky or tacky.
- Listen for quality. The sound of chocolate when you break can indicate its quality. High-quality chocolate will have a sharp snap when broken. Lower-quality chocolate bends instead of snapping or crumbles when you try to break it.
- Taste it. Now that you’ve smelt the chocolate, touched it, and listened to it breaking, you can finally taste it. Obviously, the taste test is the ultimate determining factor when you’re evaluating quality. High-quality chocolate feels smooth and velvety in your mouth. If you find that it’s gritty or waxy, this indicates a lower quality. Quality chocolate melts quickly in your mouth thanks to the high amount of cocoa butter. When tasting the chocolate, allow a small piece melt on your tongue so you can experience the full depth of the flavor.
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