& COOKING ARTICLE
- fools gold or the real thing?
is a chocolate gold rush underway fuelled by increased
awareness of a public hungry for good quality, traceable
foods, and retailers are at the front line as small
independent manufacturers and established confectioners
vie for the luxury pound. There are few people who
dont like chocolate, and everyone has their
favourite, be it a Kit Kat or an exclusive high cocoa
dark bar. Many retailers will need to appeal to both
ends of that spectrum, but when faced with the daunting
array of high end products with price tags
to match, how do you distinguish between fools
gold and the real thing?
The ancient Aztec civilisation revered a magic bean
. . . it was the food of the Gods, cured all ills
and was more valuable than gold. Chocolate has come
a long way, and whilst we no longer feed it to the
would-be human sacrifice to sweeten his demise, it
is nonetheless still adored and accredited all manner
of qualities from aphrodisiac to cholesterol reduction!
The quality of the cocoa beans used is the main factor
in the quality of a chocolate. There are however,
other elements, which affect the taste experience,
and most of them can be skimped upon in order to reduce
cost . . . look out for, and avoid:
The use of vanillin rather than natural vanilla
Excessive proportion of sugar to cocoa
Use of vegetable oils or hydrogenated fats to replace
There is much kudos associated with organic and fair-trade
products, and although they undoubtedly add shelf
appeal, they are by no means a guarantee of a really
good flavour and texture.
all five senses when tasting a chocolate bar . . .
be it dark, milk or white.
- the surface should be smooth and glossy, not dull
Sound - the bar should make a clean, crisp snap
when broken, rather than a dull thud.
Aroma - there should be a good chocolaty aroma,
together with more subtle fruity or woody notes.
You may also get a hit of vanilla, caramel or nuts,
but these shouldnt dominate the cocoa. Reject
chocolate with any hint of rubber, burning, mouldiness
Feel - the bar should feel smooth to the touch,
and melt evenly in the mouth, without any graininess,
cloying or greasy residue.
Taste - of course, this is the most important part,
and there is a bewildering spectrum of flavour experiences
to be had from different chocolates, and not all
of them will necessarily be to your taste. Try employing
the same terminology that you might use when tasting
wine . . . anything from flowers, fruits and spices,
to leather, beeswax, toast and old socks . . . just
kidding on the socks!.
everyone will have the same flavour experience, but
some good bars (Valrhona, Domori, Amedei) now have
a few tasting notes on the wrapper.
it comes to choosing filled chocolates, or Pralines,
it is really best to find a good chocolatier.
if not all high street luxury chocolates have
elevated sugar content, stabilisers and added vegetable
fats to prolong shelf life. It stands to reason then,
that the shorter the shelf life from fresh, the most
likely it is that the chocolates have been made using
fresh cream and butter and minimal sugar or alcohol.
filled chocolates generally have a ganache
based centre (a mixture of chocolate and cream) as
opposed to predominantly fondant or toffee centres
found in cheaper versions. Thats not to say
that a good violet or rose fondant cream isnt
to die for (and an absolute favourite of every Great
Aunt that ever there was) but if youre paying
top dollar, you dont want a selection full of
chocolatier worth their salt will be happy to provide
a few samples and talk at eye-glazing length about
the development and fabrication of their creations!
have your customer in mind when making a selection
(you may find the idea of a blue cheese and mango
centre intriguingly cutting edge, but the chances
are that most people will think you are having a laugh!)
There are a few general categories
These may be hand rolled and uneven in shape, and
are traditionally made only with chocolate and cream
or butter, plus the flavouring element, be it alcohol
These have a chocolate shell and can house softer
or more liquid fillings of any kind.
always contain a nut paste, usually made from hazelnuts
or almonds, and can vary from semi-liquid to firm.
These may be in a moulded shell, or cut and dipped
in chocolate. They have a chocolate and cream base,
and can be flavoured with anything from honey to
chilli, or unflavoured, especially if they are made
with a high quality single origin chocolate.
Firm, soft or liquid, salted, with nuts, without
. . . these are always a favourite.
Dipped whole nuts, rochers and clusters, stem or
crystallised ginger, candied orange peel, marzipan,
If you are selling pre-packed boxes from the chocolatier,
ask what is in them, and if the contents cant
be seen in the closed box, ask for a display box.
your fresh chocolates little and often unless you
can be sure to sell them before their best before
dates, and keep them out of direct sunlight and away
from strong odours.
From a couple of bars to a whole array of origin chocolates
and pralines, everyone can join the good chocolate
revolution . . . theres gold in them there hills!
and Chocolatier Diana Short of Lick the Spoon
professional chef for 18 years, Chef and Chocolatier
Diana Short learnt her skills in France where she
lived and worked for 6 years before returning to England.
Priding herself on the quality and freshness of her
creations, Diana has worked in Michelin star restaurants
and catered for a number of high profile events.
has always been a passion and previously only family
and friends could benefit from Dianas exquisite
chocolate creations. A commission for a chocolate
wedding cake in 2005 which later featured in You
and Your Wedding magazine sowed the seeds for
Lick the Spoon. In 2006 Diana gave up
her career as a Chef in order to found Lick
the Spoon, allowing online buyers to taste her
chocolate creations and local customers to experience
crafted bespoke cakes and Wedding favours
. . . read more
Copyright 2008 Lick the Spoon - www.lickthespoon.co.uk
18 January 2008
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org