When it comes to making drinking chocolate, the quality of your ingredients is crucial! And as you well know, the most important ingredient in your drinking chocolate recipe is the chocolate! Without delicious, well balanced chocolate your hard work isn’t going to have the same results. But do you know how to tell the quality chocolates apart from the flashy packaging? It can be tricky, but this article is here to help! Continue reading for tips on selecting quality chocolate every time.
Read the Ingredients
Selecting a quality bar of chocolate takes into account all of your senses. Sight, smell, texture, taste, and even sound. But for most of these indicators you will have to buy the product and get it home before you can start investigating. There are some ways you can select high quality chocolate while you are still at the store. Start by looking at the ingredients! For drinking chocolate, you are probably buying chocolate in bar or disk form. Take a look at the ingredients. If cocoa solids and cocoa butter are not the first two ingredients, move on. These are the two most crucial ingredients in high quality chocolate. They are what actually make up the chocolate’s taste and texture. Avoid chocolates that list sugar before cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
Check the Date
Not all foods taste their best when they are at their freshest, but chocolate does. If you can’t find the date on the chocolate you are considering don’t buy it. The fresher your chocolate, the better the flavor will be. Of course, small batch and large batch chocolates will have varying shelf lives, but as a general rule you want to use dark chocolate within one year of it being made. But preferably much sooner.
Once you have narrowed down the contenders, buy a few different chocolates and take the experiment into your own kitchen. At this point, smelling, tasting, and looking at the chocolate will help you determine which one is the highest quality. A high quality chocolate will have a pleasant, chocolate smell. If it doesn’t, it is either too old or it has been stored improperly. Next, break the bar in half. High quality chocolate will make a satisfying, clean snapping sound. If it bends, or crumbles you are dealing with inferior chocolate. And finally, take a bite! High quality chocolate, regardless of its percentage will melt in your mouth immediately. It should have a smooth, creamy texture.
Organic, Fair Trade, Shade Grown
Other factors to look for when buying high quality dark chocolate are organic, fair trade, and shade grown labels. Each one of these distinctions means that the cocoa used to make the final product was grown with integrity. The organic and fair trade labels indicate that the environment and the laborers who picked the beans are respected and rewarded. Meanwhile, shade grown means that the cocoa was grown in its preferred environment. Cocoa plants prefer a shady environment in which they can access both sun and shade when they need it most.
Of course, one of the best ways to find a quality chocolate is to learn about the chocolate making process and try out new products! Happy sampling!