Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chocolate, Chocolate & More Chocolate

How do card carrying members of chocoholics-r-us spend a lazy afternoon? Why, with a chocolate tasting party!
We (the members of the aforementioned club) eat much chocolate on a regular basis and spend a lot of time talking about all things chocolate and looking for unsual types and brands. Often we let the brands influence our perception and liking.

So it was time for a blind taste test.

Here is what we did: filled bowls with the chocolate bars broken into bite sized pieces. Each bowl was numbered and a label with the matching number was inserted in the empty chocolate bar wrapper. I held on to the wrappers to prevent any cheating!
Each taster was given a piece of paper that listed the numbers for each category and all they had to circle the one they liked the best.

I have to mention here that we did not evaluate the chocolate on the basis of the smell, colour, snap etc. the way chocolate is usually evaluated.....we used a simple way: did we like it? Liked it more than the others in the category? Were there any overtones that we liked or disliked?

Our tasting tray:

Extra dark (>70% cocoa)
Villars 72% Swiss dark chocolate
Unique Origin 71% Ocumare
Trader Joe's Swiss 71% Dark

Dark (>60% & <70%)
Vintage Plantation 2006 Harvest Equador 65%
Lindt Madagascar 65%
Chocolatour Grenada 2005 60%

Scharffen Berger 41% Milk
Villars Swiss Milk
Trader Joe's Swiss Milk

(National brands that start with H and N were not included; we are such chocolate snobs. )

The Results?

There were no clear winners.

But these brands got the most votes:
In the extra dark category: Trader Joe's Swiss 71% Dark (Some detected fruity undertones, some liked the texture, but overall this was most liked.)
In the dark category: Chocolatour Grenada 2005 60% (This was by far the smoothest.)
In the milk chocolate category: Villars Swiss Milk (This one had more 'personality' that the others.)

One surprising discovery was that no one picked the Scharffen Berger Milk chocolate! In fact some of the comments on the evaluation sheet were quite negative.

We all had a lot of fun and the only thing we all unanimously agreed upon was that we should do this again, using more chocolates.

When (not 'if') we do this again, I want to include Guittard, Valhrohna (I use it very often for baking though), and any Cadburys (manufactured outside the US).

The kids, too, had a wonderful time. So much chocolate, so little time!

It is oddly amusing to see a 6 year old pop a piece of 71% dark chocolate in her mouth, close her eyes and go 'Hmmmmm hmmm'!

What are some of your favourite chocolates?

Manisha, Richa, Tee, and Manasi think I Rock and Schmooze. Ahem!
Thanks a lot. Something like this is partcularly encouraging for a new blogger like me.
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