Here at HomeStyle HQ, we're always looking for an excuse to enjoy some chocolate – and with the 9th October until the 15th being National Chocolate Week, we've found our next opportunity!
When you're chocolate tasting, there are four key parts of your body which are required - the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Here, Lily O'Brien's explain the role each part plays.
1 Eyes - Chocolate has to look good. It should have a glossy shine to its surface as a result of the cocoa butter. If there are cracks, smudges or pale streaks, this will mean the cocoa butter hasn't been mixed properly, or the chocolate will have been stored in a room which is too hot.
2 Ears - A good chocolate will make a crisp snap when it's broken. Break the chocolate close to your ear to hear the snap - the Beta 5 crystal, which is produced during the tempering of cocoa beans, makes chocolate crunch and snap when it gets broken. White chocolate doesn't have a sharp snap as there are no cocoa beans in the recipe - instead only cocoa butter, which does not contain the Beta 5 crystal.
3 Nose - Each cocoa bean and plantation will have different flavours due to the geography, seasons and habitat in which it is grown. Therefore, you should try smelling the chocolate before you eat to see if you can recognise the flavours - the chocolate should not smell sweet or sugary.
4 Mouth - The next step will be the most important. Place the chocolate on the tongue but immediately hold your nose. It's a commonly held belief that the tongue is imperative to tasting, but this won't necessarily be the case. As the chocolate starts to melt, release your nose and breathe - the mixed flavours of the cocoa bean come flooding through.
Tips to remember when tasting chocolate
When you're tasting chocolate, try it in bitter to sweet order - so Dark, Milk, then White.
If you have flavoured chocolates, try the delicate flavours (fruit, flowers) before moving on to the stronger ones (chilli, coffee).
1 Avoid eating strong flavours by eating chocolate. Flavours like coffee and tobacco will impair your ability to taste the flavours which are found from the cocoa bean.
2 Cleanse your palate before you start eating. Bread, water or nuts will be ideal palate cleansers.
3 Chocolate is something to be enjoyed slowly. To identify and make the most of flavours, you should eat at a slow pace.
4 Storing chocolate at the wrong temperature can ruin the taste. Ensure your chocolate is stored in a cool place which isn't the fridge - if it's suddenly warmed and then cooled, this can spoil the texture and flavours.