Chocolate Baskets

Written by Robert Mac
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Chocolate baskets are better than chocolate boxes . . . but only because they can hold more. Don't confuse quantity with quality, though. When chocoholics talk about chocolate, they mean top-of-the-line gourmet chocolates, not mass-produced candies with cheaper ingredients. To them, only the best will do.

What to Look for in Chocolate Baskets

If you are shopping for chocolate baskets as holiday gifts or wedding favors, it's important to know the differences between lower-end chocolates and gourmet chocolates. Some expensive chocolates are famous for their packaging and high prices, but actually use the same filler ingredients as the candy bar you can buy at the corner store. Chocolate baskets can vary tremendously along this spectrum.

The first thing to check for is the list of ingredients. Traditional chocolatiers use all natural ingredients in their chocolates and fillings. This means no artificial colors in their cordial cherries, no artificial flavors in their hazelnut cream, and no artificial preservatives in the chocolate itself. Another easy test is to look at the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate; this requires a little background on making chocolate.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans that are processed into a thick paste called chocolate liquor, which is then separated into its two components: cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Cocoa butter is the fat and oils that are naturally part of chocolate but often removed and replaced with hydrogenated vegetable oils. As a result, cheaper chocolates only have about 10% pure cocoa, while real chocolate--with cocoa butter--have 30-55%, depending on what other ingredients are added.

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