Today on Whole Living, Terri and I did a chocolate tasting with Grace Lissauer, founder of the Chocolate Nation. It was hard work, but somebody had to do it!
Just in time for Valentine's Day, here are Grace's expert tips for shopping for and serving top notch chocolate.
- Look for chocolate that is made fresh, and if it is prepackaged, make sure there's a very short list of ingredients and no artificial flavors.
- A higher cacao percentage will mean less sugar, but high quality dark chocolate will always taste creamy and not bitter.
- Eat fresh chocolates within 2 weeks to ensure maximum freshness and avoid the need to refridgerate.
- Like cheese, chocolate should never be served cold. If you do refridgerate, be sure to bring back your bonbons back to room temperature before you eat them.
- Stop and smell the chocolate -- before you bite, enjoy the aroma just as you would a glass of wine.
- Speaking of wine, Grace prefers to drink water with chocolate to savor the flavors. She can recommend pairing a fruit-forward red wine like a zinfandel with a dark chocolate, but advised us to save the champagne for another occasion.
- The biggest trends right now in chocolate on Grace's radar: incorporating citrus flavors, blending cheese and chocolate (even blue cheese!), and adding savory notes like balsamic vinegar, sea salt, or peppery spices.
We tasted three of those trendy chocolates, starting with a rich fudge enrobed in dark chocolate and dusted with sea salt. It was a big step up from the seashore fudge I grew up eating!
Terri and I both loved these beautiful dark chocolate hearts filled with creamy passion fruit centers. The lighter citrusy taste of the filling made a great contrast with the rich cocoa.
Our last bite was this dark chocolate truffle with a balsamic vinegar infused filling and a dusting of black pepper on top. I compared it to a chocolate bar that spent some quality time in a spice rack. It was sweet, savory, and unique -- my favorite of them all.