Best Chocolate in the World and Who Makes It?
Are you like me? A chocoholic from early childhood? If so, then indulge your passion without guilt and eat only the finest confections by seeking out and identifying the best chocolate in the world. You deserve it!
Just like when making a fine wine or even the creation of great art, making a superb chocolate is a skill that is dependent on thorough knowledge, chemistry, choice of ingredients, all of which are elevated to gastronomic heights through the mastery of the chocolatier. The result of this careful application of skill and “know how” is a delectable selection of some of the best chocolate in the world.
The whole process begins with excellent cocoa beans. The best cocoa beans are traditionally grown in Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Central America, and the Caribbean. Of all the cocoa beans available, the "ariba" beans from Central America are considered by some to be the finest due to their intense flavor. Just like grapes, cocoa beans take on the personality of the region in which they are grown, and not all cocoa beans are equal in quality. The finest cocoa beans produce chocolate with deep intense aroma and flavor.
I love chocolate! And I make no apologies for it. I love to bake with it. I love to give it as gifts to my favorite people. It's one of my favorite gifts to receive. I'll never forget the year a client sent me a chocolate birthday card from Kron. It was such a novel idea at the time. Oh, so delicious...velvety smooth and rich. Because it was my birthday, I felt magnanimous and shared it with my studio, a celebration of sorts.
The ultimate test for chocolate is how it appeals to your senses. Eating chocolate is a sensuous experience, or so it should be. It is a well known mood enhancer due to the endorphins it releases in your brain. That would explain some of the popularity that chocolate enjoys with us humans. The best chocolate in the world looks a certain way and it feels a certain way to the touch. Aroma is an indicator of good quality. It should dissolve easily in your mouth, it is never overwhelming. It simply reveals itself to your palate.
There are three things to consider when evaluating chocolate:
1. Aroma: The best chocolate in the world has a strong cocoa scent.
2. Taste: A fine chocolate will have a seductive taste that lingers in your mouth. A lesser example will be comparatively flat, and the taste doesn’t last. This is usually due to the use of mediocre cocoa that lacks aroma. The cocoa might even be on the acidic side, which would account for the lack of depth, richness, and lasting taste.
3. Texture: An extraordinary chocolate will melt in your mouth effortlessly because it contains a high cocoa butter content. Chocolate should be smooth and silky to your palate.
Who makes the best chocolate in the world? The answer to that question is as personal a preference as who makes the best wines. There are many connoisseurs who would tell you that the French excel and are the hands down winners. It is indeed a fact that some of the best chocolate in the world is French. In France, the entire process is strictly regulated by government which prohibits the use of any vegetable or animal fat. Only cocoa butter is allowed, and the product must contain at least 43 percent cocoa liquor. Cocoa liquor is the ingredient that gives chocolate its rich taste.
My personal favorites are a collection of French, Swiss, Belgian, Italian, and yes, even American chocolatiers. Here are a few of them: Valhrona, Scharffen Berger, Michel Cluizel, La Maison du Chocolat, Z Chocolat, Lindt, Teuschers (You haven’t lived if you haven’t eaten a Teuschers champagne truffle), Michael Recchiuti, Jacques Torres, Jacques Genin, Richart Design et Chocolat. I want to add one more to the list: Bridgewater Chocolate from Connecticut.
I am sure you have your own favorite chocolatiers, but these are some of my favorites and also the choices of some bona fide connoisseurs.
Whether your preference is dark, milk, white, laden with ingredients such as fruit, nuts, caramel, nougat, champagne, herbs, spices, or flower scented, there is only one rule to raising the consumption of chocolate to a superlative level: choose to eat the best chocolate in the world.
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