Chocolate: What do you look for?
- babette feasts Jul 30, 2014 05:56 AM
I enjoy making chocolate confections both for fun and profit, but I have a hard time deciding whether to stick with the classics or see how creative I can get. So, I'd love some input on what you look for when buying chocolate, whether it's a chocolate bar for a quick snack or a box of truffles or bonbons for a gift. You're not limited to these questions, I'm just curious what excites you and incites you to buy.
Do you prefer solid bars or bars with bits (nuts, toffee, fruit, etc.)?
Do you prefer classic combinations, or new and different?
All dark all the time, or do milk and white have their moments?
Is salty or savory chocolate a good thing, or way overdone?
I prefer milk chocolate for eating 100% of the time. Thin bars with good snap if plain, minted, or with crisped rice (TJ's has a great one with Belgian Chocolate) but thicker bars with single nut add-ins, almond, hazelnut, cashew. For combos I stick to the classic raisin/nut. Chocolate covered caramels can be plain or salted. For filled chocolates I prefer smooth fillings like vanilla cream, orange buttercream, that kind of thing. Chocolate covered toffee minis rolled in chopped nuts - fantastic, think See's.
White "chocolate" is an abomination, and I limit dark chocolate chips to biscotti and the occasional ice cream mix.
1) Solid bars unless inclusions are something unusual eg rose petals, mushrooms...
2) I like some classic combos (coffee, hazelnut) but in general prefer the new and different or at least less usual.
3) Dark or occasionally white.
4) Still love savory combos.
What excites me and incites me to buy? I rarely buy bars from an unknown source unless I can taste - too much of an investment. Not all the combos need to be "edgy" but I won't bother to stop if everything is the same old, same old. Looks really matter too. High gloss, pristine edges and surface, creative shapes and decorations.
Not a big fan of fruit in my chocolate, tho I buy a bar from time to time with coffee bits in it. I prefer dark, but not in a crazy percentage that it's all dry and chalky when trying to eat it, and white chocolate....why?! It's just for looks as far as I'm concerned. I also like the salty component from time to time, trendy or not. Chocolove makes a nice sea salted almond dark bar that's very nice
99-100% dark (preferably organic), plain. I only eat pure chocolate. It's hard to find in the shops here. When I see it somewhere I buy the whole box of 10 or 20 bars.
However, I encourage you to experiment. Most people don't like pure choco like I do :)
I like dark, 80-90% is the sweet spot for me, although I will go down to 70% at times. Anything else is just too sweet. I enjoy bars both plain and with stuff in them, especially ginger, citrus, mint, dried fruit, chile and/or nuts. New and different combinations are fine, and I definitely do like salty/savory with chocolate - in fact, the only way I will eat milk chocolate is if it has sea salt or another savory ingredient. White chocolate fine as a decorative element but I would never choose to eat a bar of it.
What I really DON'T like has more to do with the flavor of the chocolate itself - I strongly dislike chocolate with a bright acidic flavor. Lindt and Valrhona are two major offenders in this category, which means I can almost never enjoy a chocolate dessert in a nice restaurant in NYC because almost all of them use Valrhona.