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Ted Allen teaches you how to host chocolate tastings for Valentine's Day.
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Ted Allen: Here’s a sweet idea for Valentines day. You’ve heard of wine tastings, cheese tasting, how about a chocolate tastings? People have been giving chocolates to each other for Valentines Day since the late 1800’s. And while we’re all very familiar with chocolate, I think it’s not that simple. To help us understand what’s really inside this sweet, delectable treat I’ve asked Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres chocolates in New York City to tell us what it’s all about. Well maybe I should ask you first, what is chocolate? What are the ingredients in chocolate?
Jacques Torres: That is the most important question. So chocolate will be cacao beans—
Ted Allen: Cacao beans.
Jacques Torres: Including cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla and a little bit of lecithin
Ted Allen: And lecithin is a binder that holds them together.
Jacques Torres: Correct, that’s all you need in dark chocolates. Now, milk chocolates are dark chocolates, we would add a little milk powder and less cocoa contents.
Ted Allen: So when you taste chocolate, it’s like when a wine expertise wine, its not just one flavor. You might taste of raspberry.
Jacques Torres: Chocolate is very complex and depending where the cacao bean is going to come. You are going to get that, citrus, you’re going to get that berry, you’re going to get that wood or you’re going to get just a deep flavor of chocolates.
Ted Allen: Well, here’s how to do a chocolate tasting party at home. Go to the market, buy one regular candy bar and then three or four types of gourmet chocolate. So you should provide about one of two ounces of each flavor of chocolate that you’re going to be tasting.
Okay, so we have several types of chocolate. How do we go about tasting?
Jacques Torres: My recommendation would be to start from the sweeter to the more bitter.
Ted Allen: Now you see on the finer chocolates that there is a cacao content usually in a percentage.
Jacques Torres: Yes. Ted Allen: You might have 60% cacao.
Jacques Torres: Yes.
Ted Allen: Or 82% cacao.
Jacques Torres: Yes.
Ted Allen: So organize your plate with the lowest cacao content first and then progress to the more stronger, more bitter, more powerful chocolate.
Jacques Torres: Perfect, let’s do it. So this is the milk chocolates—
Ted Allen: Okay.
Jacques Torres: You’re going to fill a lot of creaminess, a lot of milk, it’s relatively sweet. So that’s what you’re going to get.
Ted Allen: And they’re sort of a mellow almost malty.
Jacques Torres: And it melt very well then you go away. And what I recommend is, if you are very serious about your tasting, is to take a little bit of tea. Light, warm tea to clean your plate and that’s enough, that’s enough to just remove all the flavor of the chocolates and then now you’re ready to taste another chocolate piece.
Ted Allen: You also want to have some foods that pair well with chocolate, things like strawberries, raspberries or very, very nice with chocolate and also salty things like pretzels taste great with chocolate.
Okay now we all know how to eat chocolate but how do you go about tasting it?
Jacques Torres: Basically what you do is you look at it, it has to be shinny so that’s the first thing you have to do before you taste. And then you’re going to smell the chocolate. That is going to tell you if it’s a bitter sweet, it’s a semi sweet, how much cocoa content we have. The next things after is the snap, the chocolate need to be snap and need to have some noise there.
Ted Allen: And what does that tells us?
Jacques Torres: So that means that we have enough cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a better mouth feel and then put it in your mouth, chew two or three times and let it melt.
Ted Allen: So, you’re using all the senses the sight, the sound, the aroma, the flavor. Hope you enjoy your Valentines Day.