Life’s too short for mediocre chocolate. Get expert tips on how to buy good chocolate for yourself or as the perfect gift. Be a savvy chocolate shopper!
How to Buy Good Chocolate
I am a chocolate snob.
There. I said it.
Somewhere along the line, I developed a taste for really good chocolate. There’s nothing more disappointing to the palate than biting into what looks like chocolate, but actually tastes like wax sweetened with vanilla air freshener.
I am here to save you from the bad chocolate and teach you how to find the good chocolate.
1. Good Chocolate Does Not Have Artificial Flavors
There are so many chocolatiers that make chocolate without artificial flavorings, so why waste your money on those who use dubious vanilla substitutes? Check the ingredient list for yourself or ask an employee to find out for sure.
On the other hand, I don’t have strong feelings about artificial colors, and here’s why. They’re virtually tasteless, so they don’t really affect the flavor the chocolate. For me, it’s all about the flavor. However, I give bonus points to chocolatiers who are able to use natural substances for coloring.
2. Good Chocolate Is Freshly Made
If your chocolate is full of preservatives, that means you expect it to sit around for a while. I don’t want chocolate that’s sat around for a while; I want chocolate made fresh within the last day or so, at most.
Ask your chocolatier when the chocolate was made. If the chocolate came from a far away factory and the seller really doesn’t know when it was made, hop in your car and move on to the next chocolate shop.
3. A Bite of Plain Chocolate Should Not Be Boring
I will often buy one piece of plain chocolate, if possible, before springing for a box of assorted chocolates. That way, if the the plain chocolate is not good, I can avoid buying a whole box of chocolate duds.
You can try milk or dark—whichever you prefer—without any fillings, flavorings, nuts, or crunchy bits. Let the chocolate dissolve slowly on your tongue. Is it rich and complex? Are you left with a feeling of satisfaction and mild exhilaration?
If the answer is yes, then you’ve found some good chocolate. If, instead, your lips twist into a frown from off flavors, grittiness, or waxiness, run straight back to your car and drive away.
4. Fancy Packaging Doesn’t Make Chocolate Taste Better
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy sumptuously packed boxes that are stuffed with delicate tissues and wrapped in elegant bows. Beautiful boxes can make the enjoyment of chocolate into a reverent experience.
However, packaging can camouflage a multitude of sins.
When you open an elaborately wrapped chocolate box, you are psychologically influenced to view its contents as higher quality. If the contents are truly high quality, then you have no issue. On the other hand, if the contents of the box are not very good, you are left with the sinking feeling that you just paid a premium price for subpar chocolate.
Keep a level head and don’t make a purchase based on the trimmings alone.
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