Good, Better, Best or Impeccable – How to Identify High-Quality Chocolate?
Very few things in the world are better than good quality chocolate. And there's a world of difference between regular chocolate and high-quality chocolate.
Creating good quality chocolate is complex and multifaceted. The quality of chocolate is determined by the ingredients used, how it is manufactured and processed, what the packaging is – every minute detail matters.
How Is Chocolate Made? From bean to bar.
Step 1: Selecting the finest quality beans – the chocolate can use a 'single origin' cocoa plantation, but mostly different premium quality beans are combined to create a complex and highly aromatic final product. The environment of the location matters, the climate matters – like we said, every little detail matters.
Step 2: Blending the right selection of beans to create the perfect flavour.
Step 3: Roasting of the whole bean is done under strict controls to awaken the aromas and flavours.
Step 4: Grinding the beans several times:
- Cocoa nibs into liquor
- Cocoa liquor is further refined through multiple stages
Step 5: Selecting the finest additional ingredients – milk, milk products, vanilla, flavourings, etc. Using pure extracts and natural ingredients to produce best-quality chocolate, balancing cocoa solids, sugar, cocoa butter, and other ingredients for a well-rounded chocolate experience is essential.
Step 6: Refining all the ingredients to create a sensational delicious smooth taste.
Step 7: Conching - an art of mixing the chocolate to eliminate off flavours and unwanted bitter substances and fully ripen the taste.
Now that we've looked at how chocolate is made, let's get into the details.
How Do You Identify Good Chocolate? Because that's where the joy is.
Good chocolate is a joy, unlike any other. And the good news is that you do not have to be a chocolatier or a chocolate connoisseur to figure out if chocolate is high-quality. Here's what you need to know.
Read the Label
The first ingredient to be listed in the label of any good chocolate is always cacao or cocoa. The other ingredient is sugar. If it's milk chocolate, milk is another ingredient listed. A lower cacao percentage may include cocoa butter and lecithin to give the chocolate a smooth texture.
A bad/poor quality chocolate lists several ingredients on its label. If you see ingredients like vegetable oil, non-cocoa butter fats, milk substitutes, and artificial sweeteners, it is an indication that these ingredients are fillers to make chocolate less expensive and, unfortunately, of lower quality.
Here's what to read for in the label:
Cacao percentage - the total cacao content in the chocolate is everything that is derived from the cocoa bean: the cocoa butter and cocoa solids. It indicates how bitter or sweet the chocolate is.
For dark chocolates, the cocoa percentage should be a minimum of over 45%, and for milk chocolates, it should be 30%.
Sugar content - the higher the cacao content, the lower the sugar content will be.
Where the cocoa beans are from - just like good wine, cheese, and coffee, good quality chocolate proudly tells you the origins of the beans.
How it's been crafted – good quality chocolate makers are detail orientated. The label might include the details of the manufacturing process like:
- Vintage – what is the harvest? It's been aged for how long?
- Fermentation – for how long? How many times were the beans turned?
- Roasting – is it drum-roasted? Is it light, medium, or dark?
- Grinding and Conching – for how long?
- Batch information – number and size? Is it a limited edition?
The price - when you buy chocolate that costs less, it's probably remoulded from mass-produced chocolate, rather than being crafted from bean to bar. At that price, the quality is compromised, and its flavour (or lack of it) is more likely to come from cheaper substitutes and additives.
Premium quality chocolates are reasonably expensive because they:
- Use high-quality cocoa beans and pay fair farmer wages.
- Use more expensive ingredients.
- Take more time to make premium chocolates, and time is money.
Engage Your Senses. The secret behind discovering the real deal.
Finally, here's what matters the most and how you can learn to be a judge of high-quality chocolate. The chances are that if you really tune into your senses and listen to them, you will know how good a chocolate really is.
Note: You must master this art – there's no way out.
Here's what you should look, smell, feel, hear, and taste…
- It has to be smooth, evenly coloured, and with a sheen.
- It should not have air bubbles, cracks, streaks, or a cloudy appearance.
- It should smell richly of chocolate, with fruity, earthy, or floral undertones.
- It should not have overly sugary or vanilla fragrances.
- It should begin to melt to the touch quickly.
- It should be silky, not sticky.
- It should have a clear, crisp, clean, and sharp snap when broken.
- Dark chocolate breaks more easily than milk chocolate and white chocolate.
- Inferior quality chocolate has a dull sound and crumbles or bends when it is broken.
- It should melt the moment you put it in your mouth.
- Its flavour and smoothness should instantly strike you.
- It should feel smooth and velvety in your mouth.
- If it is gluey, grainy, or waxy, then it has a high vegetable fat content – an indicator of inferior quality chocolate.
- The flavour should linger for a few minutes after you finish the piece of chocolate.
ROYCE' Chocolate. Finally, its time to indulge.
We, at ROYCE' Chocolate, want you to experience the richness and sophistication of what great chocolate is.
ROYCE' Chocolate is made in Hokkaido, an island located in northern Japan known for its cold climate and the optimal environment to produce the best chocolate. This is why we source the best and finest ingredients from all over the globe, to let the magic happen in Hokkaido - the result – high-quality, supremely indulgent chocolate that is bound to please your senses.