28 January 2008

A complete guide to heavens

Are you sure you know how to treat CHOCOLATE right?

Yes, the inevitable is that you will eat it eventually. But ‘how’ means no less than ‘what’! So, before you give your lovely (if you say it is not, I'm no longer your friend!) piece of dark chocolate a mortal status, make sure you stick accurately to the royal ceremony of tasting the divine food bite after bite. When it concerns chocolate I prefer to learn my lessons in practice. So, while writing this post I’m having the object of my never-ending affection right here by my side to accompany me through my chocolate studies. In other words, theory is good, but practice is so much better, isn’t it? *wink, wink, wink, wink* So, let the fairy tasting begin.

This is what I learnt in theory.

The most famous method of evaluating chocolate is known as ‘five senses’. But if the cocoa content is 80% and more, you’ll definitely need much more accurate way to appreciate your treasure. And this is where wine-tasting skills come in oh-so-handy. *smiles*

1. Tactile test (known as gentle touch). *wink* Take the chocolate between your fingers. Do you feel the silkiness? If you do, then it’s an indication of good texture, structure and preservation. If you don’t, then it’s definitely not your piece of chocolate! Definitely!
2. Auditory test (another name is perfect sound). *wink, wink* To be honest, the auditory component is what I’ve learnt about just now. I never listened to my love before. Can you imagine? I feel so guilty. *sigh* So, what you should do is to break chocolate (but make sure, you don’t break its heart, please!). Snap. Do you hear it? If the snap is clear, it indicates a good crystallisation of the cocoa butter.
3. Visual test (or look-me-into-my-eyes-baby)! *wink, wink, wink* Observe the outer surface and the inner break of the chocolate. The colour can tell you so much about its origins, variety and state of preservation of the cocoa. And believe me, in this case appearances are never deceitful. My chocolate and me…we always take such a joy looking into each other’s eyes, ‘cause we never have anything to hide from each other.
4. Now we are moving to the smell. They call it olfactory test (why everything what’s pleasant is called so dreadful in theory? *a question on my face*). Well, breathe in the chocolate odour and in all likelihood you’ll recognise three types of aromas. I personally never cared to count, I simply ENJOY(ed). The primary fragrances indicate the scents peculiar to the origin of a certain cocoa. The secondary fragrances develop during the fermentation, roasting and conching. The tertiary fragrances develop during the aging stage. I’ve never been good at theory. Never. And yet, who cares? I’m a practical girl. *a smile from ear to ear*
5. And now…taste, taste, taste! *smiles* This is my advice: please, let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth. Do not use your teeth, do not chew on it! Let it melt, let it melt, let it melt! By doing so you’ll feel all the bounty of flavours and aromas. Simple, I know. But hopefully meaningful.

For a moment I’ll step aside (guess where I’m heading now? *mmmhhhhh*) and let the scientists speak out.

So, the scientist’ word: The complete melting creates a patina on your palate and if you "listen" to the taste sensations that develop, you can appreciate the aromatic scale. The first taste test determines the distinctive physical elements: the time it takes to melt, the graininess and palatability, i.e. the whole of tactile sensations perceived inside the oral cavity. The second taste test is of the aromatic complexity determined through the perceptions of taste, persistence and aromatic roots (cocoa, flowery, fruity, vegetal, toasted, spiced). The third and last taste test is the technical-gustative test, which allows you to reach conclusions on the value of the chocolate: sweetness, acidity, savoriness and bitterness.

It’s me speaking again. Did those knowledgeable guys impress you? As to me I didn’t let them stress me out with all the talking, I indulged myself in practice instead. *wink, wink, wink, wink*
And now for those who dare…Please, meet Cheese in Chocolate.
The original recipe you’ll find here. I found the recipe fascinating, ‘cause for a few months I had been toying with the idea to wed cheese (my best friend) to chocolate (my lifetime partner! Oh men, no jealousy, please. THANK YOU!). I don’t declare to be a pioneer in it, but believe me I got struck by this idea when I was on the metro coming home from work (no food magazines or cookbooks in my hands at that moment). So after some time I gave the newly-found recipe my personal thought relying on what I had on hand. And this is what I came up with:
100g of your favourite extra dark chocolate (I blended chocolate with chilli and the one with truffles); 50 g medium aged sheep’s cheese (like, say, Pecorino); 50g Parmesan cheese; 50g medium aged goat’s cheese, 1 pear.

Creation: Cut the hard cheeses into strips, the goat’s cheese into cubes and the pear into quarters. Steam-cook the chocolate, being careful not to exceed 40°C (After the first tasting I thought something was still missing. A touch of acidity, my taste buds were telling me. So I added a few drops of raspberry vinegar into the melted chocolate and mixed it well). Immerse two-thirds of the strips of Pecorino and chocolate. Leave them all to cool on a piece of parchment paper until the chocolate has hardened. Then dare and enjoy! *smiles* If you please, you may also garnish your creation with walnuts and serve it with full-bodied red wine.

*All the chocolate tips and a recipe adapted from sugarcompany.net (cuorenero section)


Cookiemouse said...

This cheese chocolate makes me very, very curious. I just have to try it out. Congratulations on baking your sourdough bread too!

anya said...

Cookiemouse, I'm sooo curious to know if you like this chocolate cheese eventually. :-)

Today I baked another batch of sourdough bread. Oh, how flavourful it is!! For comparison I bought sourdough bread in a grocery shop, and I must say it's a far cry from the real home-made one. So, lots of thanks again for sharing the recipe!

Cookiemouse said...

Try adding some organic raisins to the starter. They have the right yeasts for the sourdough.

anya said...

Will definitely do, Cookiemouse! Thanks for the tip!

Cinnamonda said...

Hello Anya!
Cheese and chocolate, that's an interesting combination!
I was wondering Anya, whether you would happen to know a good (and preferably easy :)) blin recipe that you would be willing to share with me?


Astra Libris said...

Your cheese and chocolate combination is amazing! I'm quite intrigued! Sounds like fun premise for a taste-testing party... A wine, chocolate, and cheese party! :-)
I learned SO much from your informative post about evaluating chocolate - I'm in awe! A million thanks for transforming my approach to chocolate!

anya said...

Dear Astra Libris,

I'm happy to be helpful in promotion the chocolate pleasures! *wink, wink, wink*