Thursday, July 20, 2006

Chocolates For Breakfast

My breakfasts of late have been full of theobroma. I'm sitting here with this lovely pile of bars from the NASFT Fancy Food Show and trying to write this post for days. Normally it takes 1-3 days for a PB post to evolve. Sometimes I wake up & it's like automatic writing -> et voilà. Other ideas come to me at the pool and get written on the subway.
This post on chocolate tasting - well I can't make it up or use
le "trope" as Maitress calls my stream-of-consciousness skills. Theobroma excess is blocking me.I don't know BEANS about Chocolate other than there are 3 major cacao beans:
1. Criollo - are difficult to grow and planted on a limited scale and produce few but highly-prized beans - valued for aroma and complexity.
2. Forestero - are easy to grow, fruitful, and produce 90% of the world's cocoa beans – but their flavor and aroma is less distinctive than Criollo beans.
3. Trinitario - is a cross between the Criollo and Forestero and named after it's original source, Trinidad. It's hardier than the Criollo with more intense flavour than Forestero.
Each one of this stack of Chocolat Pralus bars comes from a different region. Check out their amazing site. There are many other hard-to-pronounce names you'll stumble across when tasting bars.
Choco names can refer to the region of origin like Sur Del Lago or Sambriano. Or be proprietary names of a particular chocolate maker like
Vahrona: Manjara, Guanajai, Pur Caraibe.
Or a plantation name like
Cluizel's: Concepcion, Tamarina, Maralumi..
Domori's Apurimac, Carenero, Sambriano etc..Do you love chocolate? If you're a big fan of Hershey's, truffles, or bonbons Please leave the room you're ready to move on to bars or les tablettes. BTW in France "les Tablettes" can also refer to a guy's abs or 6 pack... These exquisite minature Bonbons are from Altman & Kuhne of Austria...
But bars are the feast of chocolate purists so why not become a chocolate connoisseur? A terrific web site,
70% will help out with their list of 10 best bars and the reasons why. And many chocolate companies make tasting easier by producing mini squares - see the top photo.
Some like Cluizel have packaged different regional squares together and included tasting instructions. Enough! On to tasting.
This is from a La Maison du Chocolat tasting of ganache, a mix of equal parts chocolate and cream, so not relevant here but I liked the way they laid out the small-sized samples + water + chocolate nibs...
If you've been to even one wine tasting you're ahead of the game. You'll know that all your senses will be involved and to start with a clean palate.
1. 1st LOOK at the bar for color, sheen, texture
2. FEEL the bar - this you don't have to do with wine unless you're into Champagne baths..
3. Then break the bar to HEAR it's SNAP - a dull thud can mean too much fat/cocoa butter
4. SMELL the bar. This step is vital. Your nose can detect up to 200-300 aromas. A really good bar will have a distinctive parfum that should be savored before you place it in your mouth.
5. NO CHOMPING - (but you do want to chew when wine tasting)
6. Let a small piece MELT on the back of your tongue to get it's true flavor and MOUTH FEEL.
This can be the hardest parts of tasting chocolate - not chewing.
You may want to take some notes here (as with
wine tasting) speaking of which...
As for painting chocolate bars - I'm sticking with tasting them for now. They're hard as HELL to paint. I like to paint round shapes, forget about square or rectangular ones.


  1. Hey No cursing allowed on this blog unless by the blog author!Besides these are small tiny squares you're tasting here.They must be very low calorie don't you think? :)

  2. I used to live on a tiny island with no fast food places and one very overpriced choclate shop. Now that i live in the city, my skinny girl days are sailing by me as i wave good-bye. chocolate makes me feel better about it tho :)

  3. hi carol, totally fantastic post! i swear by that chloe doutre-roussel title too ;) i must say i've become a huge fan of amedei and domori in particular. as for the pralus, i've heard so many wonderful things, i really can't wait to lay my hands on some...

  4. WAO! I LOVE chocolate! ..and I have to tell you chocolate in the world? : French one made with venezuelan cacao.....:)

  5. Love this post! I really NEED to have Chloé's book now. Have you tried Valor chocolates? I've been to their café in Elx (Valencia, Spain). AMAZING!!!

  6. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Wow! Luckily I had just had a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate before reading your blog. My mouth is watering! Found you through Tongue i Cheek ansd will bookmark your blog and come back :-)

  7. Allison - the idea is when you"taste" chocolate to just have small sized bites and really savor them..not gobble. That way you can control your intake and be satisfied with less of the BEST chocolate.

    J - Yes Chloé's book is the best introduction I've found yet and I like the portable size. She has good stories to tell of how she got into this occupation too.

    Caty - I think you may mean Valrhona, who early on staked out their Venezuelan plantations.

    Moi - Barcelona seems to have become a chocolate Mecca along with Paris..I haven't been in 7 years and I'm really curious.
    Mimi-chocolat mentioned
    and a friend brought me back a fantastic box from

    Britt-Arnhild - thanks for stopping by from Sweden! :)

  8. Excuse me..Britt-Arnhild is in Trondheim in NORWAY!

  9. Your blog makes me hungry! :)

  10. Anonymous2:15 PM

    You made me want to go grab a handful of my Valhrona ovals.

  11. those stacks of colourfully wrapped bars....

  12. Anonymous6:00 AM

    Ah ces chocolats...damnation!!

  13. whoah I have a great time reading these blog. I am amazed once again by cacao.. Cacao is very versatile fruit I have meet. The delicious chocolate is made of cacao wow.

    Why am I amazed by cacao? c'mon guys you must see this site according to that site a study proves that eating chocolate may decrease cardiovascular disease and increase the flexibility of blood vessels..

    I love cacao chocolates..


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