Thinking about a gift to give your valentine? There’s always chocolate. But you might not know about techniques you can use to uncover different chocolates’ unique traits. Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst shares tasting tips, and a few of her favorite chocolates, with hosts Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson.
I’ve been tasting chocolate — lots of chocolate. And let me begin by saying, as jobs go, this is a good one. Let’s start this lesson by taking a minute to learn some very basic information about this sweet, nuanced treat.
This is not the milk chocolate you grew up eating, which is loaded with sugar. This is sophisticated, craft chocolate — what’s often called “bean to bar.”
These chocolate bars are about the unique flavors that emerge when cacao beans — found on cacao trees, which can be grown up to 20 degrees above or below the equator — are transformed into chocolate. The cacao pods have 20 to 40 seeds inside that are fermented, dried and then roasted into what we know as chocolate. Chocolate makers then add sugar (or not), spices, nuts, fruits and/or herbs.
If you want to further hone your chocolate know-how, Eagranie Yuh, a former chemist and pastry chef-turned-chocolate educator, wrote “The Chocolate Tasting Kit” (Chronicle Books.) It’s a fun, informative book, with tasting notes meant to teach you not just all about chocolate, but also the best way to taste it.
You’re probably asking, “There’s a best way to taste chocolate?” Yes — like wine, like cheese, there is a correct way to do it.
Here are three recipes you can turn to if you have a chocolate fix that just won’t quit: Alice Medrich’s best cocoa brownies, a dessert-like bread made with cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate and a dark-chocolate tart with sea salt.
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