The world is filled with chocolates in every shape and flavour – but it’s also filled with chocolates of varying degrees of quality. So, how can you be sure that the chocolate you choose is of exceptional quality? And how can you be sure that it’s worth the price tag?
Follow these tips next time you’re on a mission to purchase your own (and almost everyone else’s) favourite, feel-good treat:
Check the price.
You pay more for quality. Just because those truffles are pretty, it doesn’t mean that they are of good quality. Chocolate from a reputed chocolatier is hand-made and unique – you are paying for special attention to detail, creativity, and superior ingredients.
Check the ingredients.
Key ingredients of good chocolate are cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Vanilla and lecithin are also likely to feature. If the list of ingredients contains things you’ve never heard of, additional fats, Dutch cocoa and sugar at the top of the list, pick a different chocolate. Bear in mind that milk or milk solids may feature in milk chocolate and white chocolate.
Check the date.
Commercial or retail chocolates usually have a longer shelf life than quality, handmade chocolates. The more recent the date of manufacture, the fresher the chocolate will be. Check the dates as follows – dark chocolate is fine within twelve months, milk chocolate within six months and white chocolate within eight months.
Use your nose.
Good chocolate has a strong chocolate fragrance. No fragrance means that the chocolate is either of inferior quality or is old. If it smells of anything other than chocolate, it means the product has not been stored correctly and has absorbed the surrounding odours and flavours.
Use your eyes.
If the chocolate is packaged in a way that allows you to see it, look for a smooth, glossy surface that is free of bubbles and blemishes. If there are areas of white on the surface of dark or milk chocolate, it’s a sign that the preservation process has been inferior. If the chocolate is wrapped, rely on the other tips listed.
Use your ears.
Obviously you can’t do this in store, but you could purchase a small sample of the chocolate and then break it in half. If it falls apart, or breaks with a dull thud, it’s a fair indication of poor quality. Good chocolate will break with a sharp, clear ‘snap’.
Use your hands.
Put a small square of the chocolate on your palm and close your hand. Wait 20 seconds. When you open your hand, a good quality chocolate will have melted.
Use your taste buds.
Top quality chocolate is silky smooth and creamy (due to the high cocoa butter content) and immediately starts to melt in your mouth. The taste will also linger in your mouth. If you detect a gritty or grainy texture it’s likely the chocolate is not of good quality. Don’t eat or drink anything strong (such as coffee, garlic, alcohol or peppermint) before doing a flavour test.