Some assume that purchasing chocolate made with fine cacao is directly helping those who grow this expensive cacao. This isn’t necessarily the case in Ecuador, where the most fine cacao in the world is grown. This research looks into the livelihoods of the growers in Ecuador, and the trade-offs of growing bulk versus fine cacao.
Although fermentation impacts the flavour and qualities of the cacao, it appears that the type of cacao somehow impacts the types and populations of microorganisms. It seems as though type of cacao impacts to a degree how it ferments, which will impact the flavour and qualities of the final chocolate.
Raw chocolate versus traditional roasted chocolate. Raw chocolate is a growing sector within the chocolate industry, and often boasts high levels of antioxidants, higher than traditional roasted chocolate. However, we often don’t get a chance to see actual hard evidence of the levels of antioxidants in such foods. Zyzelewicz et al. analyzed how various roasting techniques changed the levels of polyphenols within raw versus roasted cacao beans.
The fruit of the cacao is why humans first took an interest in this plant, which eventually lead to the making chocolate from its seeds. The cacao fruit is crucial to the process of making chocolate, but how important is its flavour? Bertus Eskes and a team of researchers conduct a few experiments with this question in mind.
Chocolate is being pushed into the “superfoods” category. However, it’s important to keep in mind that although dark chocolate has its benefits in regards to health and nutrition, it is also high in fat, calorie dense, and contains significant levels of oxalate. Oxalates are tied to kidney stones, and those who suffer from kidney stones are often suggested to limit or reduce their intake of chocolate and cocoa products.
Dark fine chocolate will contain aromas other than chocolate. Just as fine wine and coffee can be described with containing notes of cherry, wood, or roasted almond, fine dark chocolate can be explained in the same way. Where does this flavour come from? It's not added to the chocolate, its contained within the cacao seed, and is created and maintained through quality processing.
"What is the best chocolate?" I get asked that question often. It may seem like a simple question like that should have some sort of straight forward answer. Is it a brand? A nationality? Percentage? Or maybe it's variety or terroir of where the cacao tree grew. The answer is, good chocolate is none of those, and it's all of those and more. Not the answer you were hoping for? Let's begin to unpack...
Fine chocolate is making headway in today's market. You may see fine chocolate popping up in high end supermarkets, boutique shops, and local high end food retailers. Terms such as "fine", "craft", "artisan", and mostly "bean to bar" are being thrown around, without people understanding what they mean. Generally, they are all terms used to describe the growing phenomenon of bean to bar chocolate. But what is bean to bar chocolate in the first place?