Gourmet Chocolate

Written by Robert Mac
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Gourmet chocolate tastes better than standard store-bought chocolate because it uses only the finest ingredients and procedures. While the price may be higher than a chocolate bar you buy at the grocery store, a side-by-side comparison will prove that you get what you pay for. When searching for gourmet chocolate, one simple test is to check for the percentage of cocoa in the final product.

True chocolates follow the strictest standards in production, from the earliest stages of choosing the right cacao seeds to the last savory bite of the finished chocolate. For instance, only properly fermented cacao seeds are used in high end chocolates; poorly fermented ones are discolored and appear purple. While some chocolatiers will use imperfect cacao seeds, gourmet chocolate comes from only the best seeds available.

Gourmet Chocolates Don't Cut Corners

There are many steps in the chocolate making process, and at any point one can cut corners--this cuts costs but cuts the quality, too. One important step happens in the cocoa press: the rich fats (the cocoa butter) are squeezed out of the cocoa solids. The cocoa butter gives chocolate some of its taste and texture; lower quality chocolates use hydrogenated vegetable oils instead.

Higher quality chocolates use only cocoa butter; check to see that its cocoa percentage is high (30-55%) to verify that it hasn't been replaced with vegetable oil. The best chocolates will always use the best ingredients. If it contains artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, it's probably not gourmet.

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