Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate Tasting Class 101

I went to my first ever chocolate tasting at XOXOLAT. It was better than I expected and the chocolates are very good. The host was very knowledgeable and I felt like I learned a lot. To be honest I didn't know much going in. When I comes to chocolate, I know that dark is good for you and the higher the cocoa content the better it is for you. I am also somewhat of a chocolate snob because I have tasted a lot of fancy expensive chocolates in France. Nothing else compares. I have also worked with chocolate in baking and made sweets like truffles but I am interested in making things like chocolate bars themselves.

The two layer box of chocolates we got to take home :)

100% cocoa bar
XOXOLAT imports a lot of their chocolate, which they then use to make bars and other chocolates for their store. A huge part of their store actually sells their imported chocolate bars. When I first browsed through the shop, I thought everything was super expensive. It turns out that they only import and use the best stuff, that is anything fair trade or above (e.g. equitable, rainforest etc.). Their most expensive chocolate, which is also the best in the world according to the host, is Amadeus (something like that?) from somewhere in Tuscany. It's $19 for 50 grams. Wow! I ended up buying a 100 gram 100% cocoa chocolate bar for $11 for my Mother-in-law. It's even too expensive for me to eat!

We sampled a lot of chocolate, all of high quality and all with loads of cocoa. We started out sampling the cocoa nibs, then the 100% cocoa chocolate. I actually liked the 100% stuff. I thought it would taste horrible but it was just very strong cocoa in a very smooth bar of chocolate. Like I mentioned, I ended up buying one of the 100% cocoa bars at the end of the class :) The cocoa taste would linger in your mouth, which is how you can tell it's good stuff. Apparently, the pure bars have a lifetime of ten years. They don't really ever go bad. The chocolate notes fade over time but they don't ever go bad so don't ever throw them away!

As the class continued, we slowly went down in cocoa content by sampling 70%, 80%, then 75% cocoa bars and comparing the differences. If it's not cocoa, it's sugar so by sampling these we could see what a huge difference the introduction of sugar made. A huge difference! Then came the flavored chocolates like salt/pepper, blue tortilla chips/lime, saffron/pistachio, sour cherry/chilli, lavender, bacon etc. After that came the drinking chocolate in dark followed by milk chocolate. Anything after tasting dark chocolate was just overly sweet to me. I couldn't even finish my milk chocolate and it was only 50% cocoa. Yuck!

Needless to say, I had a cocoa overdose by the time the class ended. It was also extra dumb of me to gulp down a grande mocha cookie frappuccino just before going to the chocolate tasting class. What was I thinking?! In fact, I kind of felt nauseous from all the chocolate tasting part way through class. Omg.

I liked the class. It was a fun hour. I couldn't help but think what a great idea it was to host chocolate tasting classes inside the store. It helps promote your products too and who doesn't like to demo food before buying it? It's brilliant! I am now hugely inspired and can't wait to try my hands on making some chocolates :) I had no idea you could do so much with chocolate. If you like savory chocolates, the possibilities are endless. Our host says that chocolates paired with cheese are good. So are fruit with herbs and mushrooms too! They even have a bar with pig blood. Yikes! I'm a bit afraid to try that one :S

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