Finale Notes 1

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Finale Chocolate Tasting Notes

The trees that chocolate comes from are grown within twenty degrees of the equator. There are three main types of beans. Forastero beans, mainly from Africa, make up about 80% of the market. Criollo beans are predominately grown in Central and South America, and make up about 5% of the market, while Trinitario beans, the remaining 15% of the market, started in Trinidad. Once the chocolate fruits are picked, they are placed under leaves for a few days to let the beans pick up flavor. Then they are dried and roasted. The beans are cracked and the nibs removed. The "nib" of the cocoa bean is the meat of the bean, and can be used in recipes in place of nuts. In making chocoalte, the nibs are ground down into "cocoa mass" or "chocolate liquor". The chocolate liquor is about 56% cocoa butter and 44% cocoa solids. The percentabe labeled on bars is the purity of the cocoa liquor. Milk chocolate is generally 10-20% cocoa liquor in stores, 30-45% when gourmet; semi-sweet chocolate is 35% cocoa liquor when bought in stores, 50-65% when gourmet; bitter-sweet chocolate is 65-85% cocoa liquor; and baking chocolate is anything 85% plus. Once the proper ingredients are together, the chocolate is "conched", or mixed in order to make it smooth. For cheeper chocolates, this is generally done for four to six hours, but for gourmet chocolates this can be done for up to seventy-two hours. Then, the chocolate is "tempered", or heated in a specific manner to help it re-solidify with the proper crystal structure.

Several common trends in gourmet chocolates:

  • high cocoa content
  • single origin (same country)
    • estate (same estate)
  • varietal - same type of bean

Proper Method for Tasting Chocolate

  1. Break
  2. Smell
  3. Take a small bite and allow it to partially melt on your tongue
  4. Bite into the remaining chocolate

Details of Chocolate Types Tasted

All four types of chocolate were made by Valrhona, a very high-end French brand known for it's long "finish" - how long the flavor lasts after the chocolate is gone. The following are quoted directly from the pamphlet that came with the tasting.

Jivara Made from a blend of Forastero cocoa beans from around the world, Valrhona's Jivara milk chocolate offers an unusual blend of caramel and vanilla notes. At 40% cocoa content, Jivara's long finish is unique for a milk chocolate.

Manjari Manjari is made from a blend of criollo and trinitario beans from Madagascar. At 64% cocoa content, Manjari boasts tangy notes of citrus and cedar with a short finish.

Caraibe With an intense, woody bouquet, Caraibe's flavor takes a while to develop on the tongue, but eventually bursts into concentrated suggestions of tannins and red wine. This 66% cocoa content Trinitario blend from the Caribbean offers a pleasently long finish.

Guanaja A blend of criollo and trinitario beans from South America, Guanaja is an intense 70% bittersweet dark chocolate. With exploding flavors of fruit and red wine, Guanaja also exhibits the trademark Valrhona long finish.

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