chocolate and how to eat it

Like you need instructions for how to eat chocolate.

Poppy sent me this chocolate bar and I have to say, when I looked at it, I was kind of meh about it.
I mean: wasabi? ginger? Well, okay, I do love ginger. And I am a lover of dark chocolate.
But still, I thought: what the hell is she thinking?
Poppy's taste in chocolate is not to be doubted.
I carefully read the instructions on the back of the wrapper, and was lost in chocolate paradise.

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How to Eat Chocolate...
Be present. Take three deep ujjayi breaths, quiet the mind. A meditative state with a strong intention and focus will enhance your tasting experience.

See the chocolate. Describe the sheen and texture of the surface. A good shine indicates a good temper (proper bonding of the cocoa butter crystals and the cocoa mass). Observe the color; color may range anywhere from russet to espresso to mahogany.

Touch. Run your thumb and forefinger across the chocolate surface. Is it smooth, rough, bumpy, dry, moist, tacky, or...?

Smell. Bring a morsel of chocolate to your nose, close your eyes, and inhale deeply. Take note of what you detect: could it be cinnamon, rose, banana? You can use the flavor wheel (see image below) to guide you.

Snap the chocolate into two pieces. If the proper temperature conditions are present, you should hear a crisp, ringing snap. Examine the edge of the chocolate where you have broken off a piece. Is it smooth, dull, grainy? Well-tempered chocolate will have a clean, smooth break line.

Taste. Take a small bite. Crush the chocolate in your mouth, let it sit over your tongue and melt. First draw out the general categories of taste on the tongue. What do you detect: sweet, salty, bitter, acidic, umami...or a combination?

Now, taste with the help of your the chocolate melts on your tongue, take a deep breath through the nose, aerating your palate as you stimulate your sense of smell through the back of your throat. What flavors do you taste now?
Trust your instincts, be a kid again. Take note of whatever you think you taste. Look at the flavor wheel below for some hints. If you can't quite identify what you taste, find a broader description; perhaps you detect something generally "fruity." Find the "fruit" category at the center of the wheel. Within the fruit category, does one of the flavors match what you taste?

Wordy, yes, but so helpful. I did taste more than I would have if I didn't read this.
I'm not sure what umami means but I do know that Poppy knows her chocolate.


Anonymous said…
Ah...the elusive umami. The five taste after bitter sour salty and sweet. What MSG was manufactured to imitate.
Naturally present in shitake mushrooms, parmesan cheese, soy sauce and a whole host of other things.
finding umami in chocolate just may be like finding nirvana for some.
Sorry, I still dont't like chocolate.
MsCellania said…
Badger and umami have met, I do believe. She may enlighten you regarding this taste. Or possibly it's a lifestyle?
I had NO IDEA that eating chocolate is like going to a wine tasting.

Of course, I don't think it's the same thing at all if one is stress-eating her way through a one pound bag of M&Ms.
Sarah Louise said…
wow. i heart chocolate.
MizMell said…
Did you say wasabi in the chocolate? I can't even imagine...
Badger said…
Love umami. Love the Black Pearl bar (although my favorite is the one with smoked almonds and grey salt). Love Poppy.
Geggie said…
Lovely. I'm a fan of the Naga bar by Vosges, coconut flakes & curry, it's very nice. I've had the bacon bar, too, with applewood smoked bacon and alderwood smoked almonds...oddly, not repulsive. I have a Black Pearl bar to eat still. Enjoy!
alice c said…
Because I am such a bb fan I can remember an earlier posting about colour wheels. I think you might have a blog theme here.

Oh, and did you hear a clear, ringing snap?
Anonymous said…
How enlightening.
Must try eating a bit of chocolate (obviously not the Black Pearl Bar which is NOT available on THIS side of the world) by using all the instrucions given.
Poppy B. said…
I'm sitting here in lonely Weight Watcherdom, living vicariously.

I think "umami" translates as "deliciousness."

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
Terese said…
Umami is a japanese flavour description - think of the satisfaction of a perfect bowl of steaming noodles in stock - that is umami. You can't buy umami off the shelf you have to make it.
Sometimes I use this word to describe satisfying moments.
I too cannot buy this chocolate, however I might go looking for it in a deli I know.
Anonymous said…
JESUS! After reading that, I pretty much needed a cigarette and a cold shower. I'll never look at my Hershey bar the same way again.(the 70% cacao reserve Sao Tome bar w/ coffe "notes" is the best AND works really well when making a ganache or frosting)
Of course now I want to try this BLACK PEARL BAR
Poppy, where did you find it?
Suse said…
All I could think was two things:

1. pretentious chocolate
2. lovely Poppy!
Joke said…
Umami is the mack-daddy flavor. It sort of means "savoury" but it's much more. It's also pretty addictive, and you find it in glutamate-rich foods. Soy sauce, prosciutto, tomatoes all ate loaded with it.


KPB said…
I put this into the same category as "oh no, it's not failure, it's postponed success".

"you should hear a crisp, ringing snap."

Yep, that's me thwacking the person who wrote this on the back of their head.

Just eat the damn chocolate, enjoy it and be done with it.

And they can shove their umami...

oh never mind.

Poppster - I'm WWing and eating chocolate. Which may explain the gain two weeks back but still am eating chocolate.
Major Bedhead said…
I bought a Vosges chocolate bar a couple of weeks ago. It had dried plum in it and some kind of nut and, I believe, cardamom or coriander. I can't remember, but it was good. I may have to hunt down this Black Pearl. It sounds interesting.

I read about three lines on the back and then just tore it open. I got as far as inhale quickly became a nibble.
RW said…
Seriously, I had never heard the term umami before today and I ready it on your blog and then in my new thrift store book find of the year Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I love stuff like that.