How to taste chocolate like the Lily O’Brien’s experts
There are four key parts of your body that are required for chocolate tasting.
These are the eyes, nose, ears and mouth.
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Eyes – Chocolate must look good! Chocolate should have a glossy shine to its surface which is a result of the cocoa butter. If there are cracks, smudges or pale streaks then either the cocoa butter has not mixed properly or the chocolate has been stored in a room that is too hot.
Ears – A good chocolate should have a crisp snap when it is broken. Break chocolate close to the ear to really hear the snap. The Beta 5 crystal which is produced during tempering of cocoa beans, provides chocolate with the ability to have that crunch and snap when it is broken. White chocolate will not have this sharp snap as there are no cocoa beans in the recipe, just cocoa butter which does not contain the Beta 5 crystal.
Nose – Each cocoa bean and plantation will have different flavours due to geography, seasons and habitat in which it is grown. Therefore, try smelling the chocolate before you eat to see if you recognise any flavours, chocolate should not smell sweet or sugary.
Mouth – the next step is very important. Place the chocolate on to the tongue but immediately hold your nose. Most people believe that tongue is imperative to tasting but this is not the case. As the chocolate melts a little, release the nose and breathe. The mixed flavours of the cocoa bean will come flooding through.
Taste your chocolates in bitter to sweet order – Dark, Milk then White, start with sweetest dark working your way to bitter.
If your chocolates are flavoured taste the delicate flavours (fruit, flowers) ahead of the stronger ones (chilli, coffee)
Avoid eating strong flavours before eating chocolate. Flavours like coffee and tobacco can impair your ability to taste the flavours found from the cocoa bean.
Cleanse your palate before eating. Bread, water or nuts are ideal palate cleanses. Soupy unseasoned polenta is the palate cleanser of choice for the international chocolate awards
Chocolate is meant to be enjoyed slowly. To identify and make the most of the flavours, eat the chocolate at a steady pace.
Storing chocolate is crucial as the wrong temperature can ruin the taste. Ensure chocolate is stored in a cool place which isn’t the fridge. If chocolate is suddenly warmed and then cooled, it can spoil and lose its texture and flavours.