For most people chocolates are more than just a treat, chocolates give them a sensory experience. From the time they open a regular milk chocolate or a premium Belgian chocolate, it has the aroma, and when you bite into it you savor and explore the taste.
When you are lucky enough to bite into a bar of artisan chocolate, the taste explodes celebration on taste buds. That's why it is best if you try to savour every experience eating a fine chocolate to the fullest.
However, we are only talking about the finest and premium chocolates. You do not deserve cheap chocolates that taste more like cardboard than sugar.
Here we will give you some tips and qualities that you should find if you are buying premium chocolates.
How to Prove If You are Buying a Fine Quality Artisan Chocolate?
Cocoa Should Be on the Top of the Ingredient List
As a buyer, you should know that ingredients on products are listed from the most prominent to the smallest amount in the mixture. For a premium chocolate, a variety of cocoa products must be at the top.
Cocoa can vary from cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, cocoa solids, cocoa mass. It doesn’t have to be the first thing you see but the list should contain a higher percentage of cocoa if you are looking into a high-quality bar of chocolate.
Keep in mind that the more cocoa a piece of chocolate has, the more bitter it may taste. Regardless the amount, cocoa products should still be prominent over other stuff in the mixture.
Uniform Look of Chocolate
High quality chocolates are carefully crafted, some are even hand-crafted by artisan chocolatiers. Therefore, a uniform look and an almost perfect shape must be considered when you buy.
It is better to take a few moments to closely inspect the individual pieces or for a bar of chocolate, how it is packed and stored.
You have a premium chocolate on your hand if it is smooth, uniform color and has a matte (with a slight gloss) finish.
If you see grey or white streaks, or if you spot small crystals on the surface, your chocolate might be spoiled or gone through a sloppy process.
Chocolates Have Sweet and Robust Aromas
Even if you are no chocolate connoisseur you can say if a chocolate is high-quality or cheap.
When you sniff a premium bar of chocolate or even pralines, it should smell strongly of chocolate, with a few hints of vanilla, hazelnut, strawberry, mint, caramel, or other key ingredients.
Your chocolate should not smell anything aside from the ingredients mentioned.
Chocolates easily absorb the smell of other food or the environment, if you think you smell something not on the list of ingredients, you probably have a cheap chocolate.
There is a Snap When You Break It
Probably this is one of the most common indications of high-quality chocolate. High-quality chocolates undergo the process of tempering making cocoa butter in the chocolate to harden into a crystalline pattern and extend the shelf-life of the chocolate.
This process makes high-quality chocolates snap when you break it compared to poorly made chocolates that will crumble when you try to break it.
It Melts in Your Mouth
One of chocolate’s key ingredients, cocoa butter, has a unique melting point. And it amazingly melts in your mouth when you consume it.
This is a good characteristic of a premium chocolate. High-quality chocolates soften and start to melt when you hold it in your hands and eventually dissolves completely when you put it in your mouth.
What Makes Couverture Chocolate Special?
Couverture chocolate is just one of the several very high-quality chocolate options. It is usually used in making candy treats.
Also, it is utilized in the pastry making as well as in the baking industry for dipping, coating, and molding.
A bar of couverture chocolate contains a high amount of additional cocoa butter making this type incredibly fluid and easy to work with. The cocoa butter also gives the chocolate a wonderful sheen and a firmer “snap” when broken.
Couverture chocolate is special because it is often referred to as 'real' or true chocolate. It is considered real and high-quality because it is composed of two main ingredients out of cocoa: cocoa butter, & chocolate liquor.
Next time you go to the grocery to buy chocolate, think like an expert. Professional chocolatiers take into consideration: 1) cocoa mass; 2) sugar content, and 3) total fat content when they buy and use chocolate.
Difference Between Compound and Couverture
Compound chocolate has often been used as a substitute to the premium, high-quality couverture. Here are just a few things that you may look into that makes the two different from each other.
This is the cheaper or 'lower quality' version of the couverture chocolate. This is used as a substitute for the two main ingredients - cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. Compound chocolates contain cocoa powder and vegetable fats, such as coconut oil & palm oil.
These fats have a higher melting point, resulting in a lack of the 'mouth feel' that is essential for chocolate connoisseurs.
As expected compound chocolate tastes a little different from most quality chocolates.
However, normal chocolate eaters can’t tell the difference by the looks and initials but when compared side-by-side to a couverture chocolate, the real difference can be easily distinguished.
This is the real chocolate with cocoa butter and chocolate liquor.
Couverture Chocolate is the higher the quality chocolate, meaning you need to be more careful when using it. Couverture chocolate requires more attention and preparation when being melted down.
Unlike compound, you cannot melt this type easily. It has to be tempered properly. If you missed on being careful, your chocolate will bloom, or may not even set up properly.
However, if you tempered couverture chocolate correctly, you will get a glossy shine, “snappy”, and melts in your mouth chocolate bar.
Couverture chocolates are high quality and rare finds especially in a crisis. There are limitations on productions and availability of chocolates in stores. However, there are online chocolate stores like QQ La Praline that can satisfy your premium chocolate cravings.