The Guide to Chocolate
The Valentine's Day Bliss & Beyond
February 14 has had a centuries-long history of being the most romantic day of the year. Since the middle of the 18th century, the English-speaking world has taken the day to appreciate its loved ones, lavishing them with meaningful gifts. In 1861, when Richard Cadbury introduced heart-shaped boxes of chocolate into the market, a tradition was born. Since then, the sweet confection has become a hallmark of Valentine's Day and nearly every other day of the year that we deem particularly special.
Learn more about the dessert that's become a universal indulgence for all, then explore the delicious hand dipped possibilities FTD has left studded throughout and waiting for you at guide's end.
The rich umber and semisweet taste of dark chocolate has all to do with its cocoa content. Dark chocolates are composed of a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor-a non-alcoholic mixture of ground cocoa nib-and little to no milk. Playing with the cocoa butter to cocoa solid ratio creates dark, or semisweet, and extra dark, or bittersweet varieties.
Less than 12%
Since the late 19th century creation of solid milk chocolate, chocolatiers have been producing the lush smooth taste of the milky confection by mixing chocolate liquor with condensed, liquid, or powdered milk. Today, American milk chocolate is composed of one tenth cocoa, and in Europe, a quarter or more. Its rich, creamy flavor is achieved by increasing the proportion of milk solids.
More than 12%
The alabaster hue of white chocolate comes from its lack of ingredients-namely chocolate liquor and cocoa solids. Only cocoa butter, the fatty part of the cocoa bean, is combined with sugar and milk to produce the ambrosial concoction. It's sweeter than sweet taste can be attributed to sugar, naturally. Some milk chocolates are over 50% saccharine.
More than 14%
Storing & Keeping Chocolates
Chocolate Covered Fruit
Chocolate covered fruits are the most delicate and will last one to two days in an airtight container at room temperature, five days in the refrigerator, and three months in the freezer.
Belgian chocolate can last one to two weeks past its best-by date in room temperature, two to four weeks in the refrigerator, and two to four months in the freezer.
Chocolate can keep for two months past its best-by date. If it's refrigerated or frozen, that time is extended to four months and six months, respectively.
Chocolate Flavor Pairings
What to Mix, Drink, and Dip with Chocolate
and Pinot Noir
When every bite promises that uplift and flutter, approach it wisely. Whether you're enjoying a rich Valentine's Day chocolate or an everyday treat - savor your delicacy with every sense in mind and make the most of your experience.
1. Take a closer look at your chocolate. It should have a glossy, even sheen with no bloom or bubbling.
2. Touch it with your hands. Good chocolate should feel smooth and break easily without any bend. When held, it should warm and soften slightly between your fingers. Let it.
3. Put it up to your nose and inhale. Cocoa butter melts at body temperature, releasing the aroma and flavor of the chocolate inside. Note the smell. Is it earthy or floral, fruity or creamy?
4. Now taste it. Bite the chocolate and allow it to dissolve in your mouth. Let it stay on your palate intensifying in flavor and scent. Pay attention to the flavors. If it's well-made chocolate, you should taste more than cocoa. Let your tongue take in the undertones. They may be roasted, acidic, or hinting of wine.
The Making of a Confection
How Chocolate Becomes Chocolate
Cocoa trees are harvested for pods, holding 30 cocoa beans on average.
The beans are removed and left to ferment for a week, after which they are left to dry out in the sun completely.
The beans are then brought to a factory where they are roasted to enhance their rich flavor.
After roasting, a winnower removes each nib from its hardened outer shell.
The nibs are crushed, melting their cocoa butter component in the process, and creating chocolate liquor.
The liquor is mixed with the particular ingredients the chocolate recipe calls for - vanilla, sugar, and milk, for example.
Next the chocolate undergoes conching. During this process, the chocolate is pressed and manipulated for hours or days at a time, allowing it to breathe and develop its flavors.
The chocolate is then tempered, or made uniform, through a series of heating and cooling stages, until it's ready to be put into its final product mold.
The seed produced by the evergreen cocoa tree native to Central and South America.
The Latin name for the cocoa tree, translated it means "food of the gods."
The roasted, center of a cocoa bean.
A non-alcoholic liquid that is unsweetened, ground up, melted nib.
The colorless, fatty part of the cocoa nib.
The remaining non-fat part of the cocoa nib.
A confectioner, or sweet maker, who specializes in chocolate.