Chocolate for the Holidays!
Ok, folks, it is back to work week, and I thought I would share a lighter subject – or heavier one, depending on how you look at it.
Today at lunch, my colleagues and I had a very festive topic of conversation: what type(s) of chocolate we had on our tables over the Holidays break. Promptly, the discussion turned into a “what is the best chocolate” debate, and that kept us at the table for longer than planned.
Chocolate tasters tell me that it should have a glossy surface; it should not be clouded or crumble easily, but “snap” broken cleanly. It should smell strongly of (you guessed) chocolate, rather than vanilla or other added or accidentally acquired flavoring. It should taste clean, smooth, and velvety, without any sandy or grainy inclusions.
All very nice theories, but is that really all there is to it? Ask 10 different people “how do you like your chocolate” and you will have 10 different answers – often proffered in a quite emotional context!
“With nuts”… “dark and smooth” …“Milk” …“White” …“caramel filling”… “Not too sweet” …“Liqueur” …“TRUFFLES”… “with raisins” …“sea salt”….
What is YOUR flavor? In the end, it should taste good to YOU. Yes. The only good judges are your own taste buds. Just look at this little girl on the side!
For many people, chocolate is an indispensable “food group”, in particular during some holidays – Christmas, Easter, St Valentine’s Day, Halloween, did I forget some? Chocolate makers are very aware of our weakness, and provide us with an incredible variety of flavors, textures, formats, fillings and packaging.
Think of a classic like Kit Kat, produced in over 100 different flavors… some very creative.
Will I dare to mention the delicious Caramel and salt, or the Wasabi, Cherry Blossoms, Wine, Beet, Sweet Potato, Cola, Dark Chocolate. Green tea, anyone? Kit Kat sounds like “good luck” in Japanese… so it is a very popular confection, used to wish good luck to students heading off to tests and exams.
I was lucky and had a chance to sample many of them, during a recent 75th year anniversary event for the Kit Kat bar. The green tea version is actually surprisingly refreshing.
A well-known and swiss-trained high-school chocolate-binger tells me that the green tea version has been located in the US, in particular in Japan Town in San Francisco. 😀 you’re welcome.
Nutella, the gooey, fabled, loved and hated chocolate spread, has quite the opposite approach: many formats, packaging shapes and sizes, one unique formulation since the start in 1944 – but that one flavor, oh boy! Does it have its fans. There are fan days, fun clubs, fan meetings, recipe books… and did you know that February 5th is Nutella Day? Spoon, ready, EAT!
And how about Toblerone, whose shape is inspired by the most beautiful mountain peak, the Matterhorn? Does it really look like a mountain? You decide:
Lets move on now, getting deeper in this sticky subject. Let’s look into the divide between fans of dark vs. milk vs. white chocolate.
Cocoa contains flavonoids, whose antioxidant effects are supposed to help prevent heart disease and cancer; that means that the higher the content in cocoa, the better the chocolate is for you. So while white chocolate is just a tasty confection, most health experts agree that dark chocolate is actually good for you and for your health. Its fat content is high, but it is a type that does not raise blood cholesterol (stearic acid); dark chocolate is also fairly high in magnesium with 176 mg /3 ounces. I guess I’ll just have to eat all 3 ounces.
The discussion reminded me of this “Fast Fact”. According to FAO.org, world cocoa production is reaching the 3.7 million tons, with about 40% produced in Africa. Now, lets face it. 2.2 million tons is a very large amount of chocolate.
I guess that with the quantity and quality, there will be enough chocolate to satisfy the most demanding “customer” during the whole year.
On that note, it is time to wish everybody, on behalf of the whole HCM LoB team, a sweet, tasty, exciting, successful, healthy New Year 2013!!
If you wish to be included in the 2013/2014 Chocolate blog, please make sure your free samples reach us in time!
NDR: just kidding.
1 – www.suchard.ch
7 – SAP
8 – my own chocolate bowl! (we all need sustenance)