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Trouble Shooting Guide

Posted by on Dec 31, 2011 in Guides, How to, Resources | 0 comments

The other day I was making snobinettes (tiny cup shaped chocolates) for a dinner party. I like to fill the snobinettes with advokaat (Dutch “egg cognac”) or a flavored whipped cream and let my guests sprinkle spices of their choice on top. I always prepare a tray of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and cayenne pepper) as well as chopped nuts. This is a favorite dessert.

Anyway, I had trouble getting the snobinettes out of the molds. I forced the issue by putting the molds in the freezer, but I started to think that there ought to be a trouble shooting guide out there for when things like this happen. Because with chocolate, it is always something. I knew that when I made the snobinettes I was in a hurry and perhaps used the chocolate before it was ready. But I thought I could away with it. I should know better. With chocolate one never gets away with anything.

I went out in search of such a Trouble Shooting Guide online and found it at AMANO Artisan Chocolate. My problem was the first listed in the Molding Problems section: Will not release from molds. I then sat down and went through the guide. It was so useful I printed it out. The guide is now next to my favorite recipe books as a ready reference.

Click here to read my review of the guide

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New Chocolate Tasting Guide

Posted by on Mar 27, 2011 in Guides | 0 comments

I just posted a new Tasting Guide that I developed to recognize and identify the many tastes, textures and forms you’ll find when eating Belgian chocolate. There are three parts to this guide. The first part addresses tasting chocolate with the five senses. The second part lists the categories and characteristics used in the making and designing of chocolates. And the third part identifies the many flavors and aromas found in Belgian chocolates. Click here to go to the Chocolate Tasting Guide.
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What Does “Percentage of Chocolate” Mean

Posted by on Feb 21, 2011 in Guides | 2 comments

At Saturday’s Dark Chocolate class at Rendez-Vous Chocolat, someone asked for an explanation of what it means when a chocolate bar states that it is 70% chocolate.  One doesn’t see this as much on Belgium chocolate as in the USA, but it does exist.  So, I decided to do some research so that I could answer this question from both a US and Belgian chocolate perspective. There is a wealth of information on the web about chocolate and percentages.  Though the articles may different in how they go about explaining what the percentages means, they are all in agreement that the answer is not as simple as a mere explanation of ingredient ratios.
On the surface, the percentage refers to the percentage of “Cocoa mass” (a controlled term used in the EU) and cocoa butter in chocolate.  This percentage excludes the other contents of chocolate such as sugar, vanilla and soya lecithin.  However, the quality of the “cocoa mass” can vary such that two chocolates with the same percentages can taste remarkable different.  In the US, the focus seems to be on the percentage of chocolate, completely ignoring the fact that the chocolate may have a fat other than cocoa butter.  Better to stick with Belgian Chocolate where you know what you are getting: chocolate made from the finest cocao with pure cocoa butter.

Below are the articles I found helpful.

Chocolate by the Numbers
This article deconstructs the meaning behind the different percentages of chocolate.  First it explains cocoa mass and then it explains how different percentages of cocoa mass impact the taste of chocolate.

Chocolate and Percentages: What Does it All Mean?
By:  Patric Chocolate
DATE: March 3, 2008
A very detailed look at what percentages of chocolate mean.

Chocolate Linguistics Part 2: Cocoa Mass v. Cocoa Solids
By:  Chocolate in Context
DATE:  August 7, 2007
This article provides definitions of cocoa mass and cocoa solids from three industry professionals to demonstrate the differing perspectives on these terms and how this confuses the concept of “percentage of chocolate” in labeling.

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How to Order Belgian Chocolates Online

Posted by on Mar 13, 2009 in Guides | 0 comments

My friend Christy wanted to know how she could order Belgian chocolates online.  I immediately got to work putting together a list for her of shops that shipped factory-direct to the US.  This list is now a permanent page on this site.  To see the list and add to it, click here.

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Tasting Guides

Posted by on Feb 18, 2009 in Guides, Resources | 0 comments

To better identify and understand the appearances, tastes, and textures of Belgian chocolate, I put together a three-part tasting guide.  The guide includes sections on how to experience chocolate through the five senses, a chart of categories and characteristics of Belgian chocolate, and a flavor and aroma chart.

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