With the enormous selection of chocolates available these days in different formats such as bars, truffles and bits how does one go about choosing a good and even great chocolate?
First of all, it is important to understand some basics. The bottom line for defining a great chocolate is the amount of cocoa solids present. The percentage should be a minimum of over 45 percent for dark chocolate and 30 percent for milk chocolate. Truly great chocolates have cocoa solids over 70 percent. Many of the finest chocolates also have their origins as coming from one geographical location which can change the taste of the chocolate dramatically.
One test to find out whether or not the chocolate you have purchased is to let a bit sit in your mouth without chewing or masticating the piece. Quality chocolate will melt in your mouth. Why? The content of the cocoa butter is what makes the chocolate melt in your mouth and provides its distinctive texture and flavor. Today most mainstream chocolate manufacturers have chosen to reduce the amount of cocoa butter in their products replacing this all-important ingredient with cheaper and nastier fats. This of course allows the manufacturers to offer their products at a much lower price. So what do you look for on the label? Does the label on the bar or box clearly indicate that it is truly chocolate?
Of course you should carefully read the ingredients. Great chocolate should contain no more than about 6 ingredients and contain the percentage of cocoa solids as outlined above. Solids is the key term since some companies will advertise 70 percent cocoa, but these are not cocoa solids.
If you unwittingly do purchase, take a small piece place it on your tongue. If it doesn't melt and has a waxy feel, then most probably the chocolate is of poor quality.