How to taste dark chocolate

How to taste dark chocolate

How do you eat dark chocolate? Well, put it in your mouth and chew, of course. It’s creamy, sweet, bitter, and probably very enjoyable. But what if you want to get more out of your dark chocolate experience? Learn to tell the differences between the growing number of varieties? Like tasting wine, you’ll have to apply a little more thought and awareness. You must learn to recognize things like snap, aroma, texture, and finish.

Chocolate is an incredibly complex product, but tasting can be broken down into a few components. Brad Kintzer, chief chocolate maker at TCHO, says that one of the most important things is taking your time. He brings a rather Jedi Master approach: “Pretend like you’ve never tasted chocolate before,” he says. “Monitor the experience from the time you break open the wrapper.”

How to taste dark chocolate

In fact, you should monitor the experience even earlier. Start in the store: Buy different brands, different percentages, different origins. Buy organic and fair-trade chocolates. Taste widely and agnostically until you find brands and types that you like. There’s been a lot of emphasis placed on percentage, but Kintzer points out that one 80 percent bar can vary wildly in flavor and texture from another. Michael Recchiuti of Recchiuti Confections says that the exact same percentage can differ in every other aspect: sugar content, flavor, acidity, texture. Tasting is the only way you’ll discover the differences.

You’ve bought the bars; you’re ready to taste. Be prepared to write things down: “Don’t be afraid to geek out about it,” says Kintzer. “Taste is so subjective and personal,” says Recchiuti. “Tasting notes are always different.” You’ll want water as a palate cleanser and perhaps some crackers. Your chocolate should be at room temperature. Don’t taste right after you’ve brushed your teeth or drunk a few glasses of wine or coffee; your palate should be fresh.

Visual: Take your time; inspect the bar. A properly tempered bar is shiny and bright. What’s the color like? Color variations can be extreme, from light to dark. Is it dusty-looking with bloom? Bloom can change the texture of a bar, which affects flavor.

Aroma: Some people rub their fingers over chocolate to warm it up and release the oils that deliver aroma. Remember that as you taste, the aroma will develop. Some tasters will even melt chocolate and eat it with a spoon to get more of the aroma earlier.

Texture: Break a chunk off. A clean snap indicates that the chocolate’s been well tempered. Put it in your mouth. Close your eyes and think about what you’re experiencing. Chew a few times to break it up, and let it melt in your mouth. The rate at which it melts affects how quickly the flavors develop. Smack your tongue on the roof of your mouth to get a sense of the texture. Is it creamy, fatty, gritty? How well does it spread out across your palate?

Flavor: The basic flavors you might experience are bitter and sweet. But do you get any sour notes? Any roasted notes? Is there fruitiness from the acids? Sometimes you’ll get a zing of brightness and citrus. Some flavors come from flaws in the chocolate-making, like smokiness, mustiness, or earthiness; even hamminess, says Kintzer. How does the flavor linger? What is going on in your mouth even well after the chocolate is gone?

In the end, you’ll know what you like. And you’ll get a better understanding of the complexity of premium bars. But if you want to gobble down some Reese’s Pieces, Kintzer says he’ll understand. He does that too.

Quick & Easy Guide to Tasting Chocolate

Dark chocolate tasting and wine tasting both follow the same principles. In both cases, we use our sensory awareness to deepen an experience. With dark chocolate, as with wine, we have the opportunity to transform an activity that could be mundane (i.e., the act of consumption) into something sublime. This is what it means to live richly.

Below you will find a Quick & Easy Guide to tasting chocolate. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the subject, feel free to download our Comprehensive Guide on how to taste chocolate.

STORAGE & PREPARATION

• Store dark chocolate at room temperature and keep it away from direct sunlight and other strong odors
• Try to avoid eating garlic or other heavily-spiced foods before tasting chocolate.
• Get other people involved. Tasting chocolate is always more fun in a group setting.
• If you’re tasting multiple different bars of dark chocolate, it’s nice to have a glass of water on hand to cleanse the palate in between bars. Bread or salted crackers also help.

SETTING

• Choose a place that is free from other strong odors.
• Both the room and the chocolate should be at room temperature.
• When it’s time to begin, bring your attention to the chocolate and to your own sensory awareness. All five senses will be called into action.

How to taste dark chocolate

VISUAL

Inspect the color and sheen of the chocolate bar. White splotches (called bloom) indicate that the chocolate has suffered temperature damage. When this happens, the chocolate is still edible, but the nuances will be compromised.

AUDITORY

Break off a piece of the chocolate and listen to the “snap” that it makes. A fairly loud snap usually indicates that the bar was properly tempered. It’s also an indicator that the bar is not too warm for tasting; a warm chocolate bar won’t snap.

ON THE NOSE

• Bring a piece of the chocolate near to your nose and explore the aroma—as you would with a glass of wine.
• Start out by assessing the intensity of the aroma. Then, look for primary characteristics such as fruity, floral, earthy, nutty, spicy, or classic “chocolatey” aromas.
• If you already have a well-trained nose, you may also perceive secondary aromas. Don’t worry if you can’t pick out specific characteristics—dark chocolate is often subtle on the nose. You will soon get a second chance to perceive aromas, via the retronasal passage, once the chocolate is in your mouth.

How to taste dark chocolate

LET IT MELT

Now move the piece of chocolate into your mouth. Don’t chew! Rather, use your teeth to break the chocolate into a few smaller pieces, and then let it melt. As it melts, move it around inside your mouth (as you would with a mouthful of wine) to maximize exposure to your taste buds.

TEXTURE

Take note of the texture. Maybe it’s smooth and silky, or maybe it’s a bit granular. Observe how it melts (quickly or slowly) and its consistency (thin, thick, pasty, or buttery).

ON THE PALATE

Try to identify the primary flavor characteristics (fruity, floral, vegetal, nutty, spicy, chocolatey). From there, you can also try picking out more specific notes, such as raisin, fig, orange blossom, hazelnut, forest floor, honey, anise, tobacco, caramel… the list is nearly endless. Or don’t worry about putting words to it—simply let the sensory impressions wash over you.

COMPLEXITY

Pay attention to how the flavor evolves over time. A complex chocolate will unfold like a miniature movie inside your mouth, with a cast of different characters and a developing plot line.

How to taste dark chocolate

FINISH

Last but not least, observe the finish. Does the flavor sensation disappear shortly after the chocolate melts, or does it linger? What are the final sensations? How do you feel in the afterglow?

PAIRING

Now that you have properly tasted dark chocolate on its own, you have the option to take it one step further. If you enjoy wine and spirits or cheese, the next level is to explore pairings with dark chocolate. Click here to learn about how to pair chocolate with wine, spirits, and cheese.

How to taste dark chocolate

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Many people agree chocolate is delicious, but chocolate itself comes in all shapes and varieties. From dark to milk, and inexpensive to refined, the taste variations of chocolate is based on concentration of original cocoa in the chocolate, quality of ingredients and additives used. While chocolate is frequently enjoyed alone, it also pairs well with other foods.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate inherently has more original cocoa present, but even dark chocolate comes in a variety of cocoa concentrations. Dark chocolate bars have anywhere between 35 percent cocoa content — cocoa solids with cocoa butter — and up to 100 percent cocoa — unsweetened chocolate without other ingredients or additives. Dark chocolate naturally has a more bitter taste than milk chocolate, but levels of cocoa higher than 80 percent make it especially bitter due to low sugar levels. Sweet chocolate-lovers often do not tolerate the taste of this high cocoa content well.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate, the sweeter counterpart to dark and the basis of many popular candy bars and sweet treats, has less of the original cocoa bean than dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains cocoa solids but is also diluted with milk solids, sugar and cream, giving it a smoother, creamier taste with less bite. The name is fitting — milk chocolate has a milkier taste than dark. In addition to taste, milk chocolate often has a creamier texture than dark.

Chocolate Quality

The quality of your chocolate has a huge impact on the taste. Products manufactured by large, commercial companies are intended to last a long time and be relatively inexpensive for buyers. Cheap milk chocolate can often have a waxy taste. Low-quality dark chocolate can also taste harsh and offensive. Often cheap, low-quality chocolate contains artificial flavorings, which comes across in the taste. Many small, independent chocolate producers and chocolatiers aim for a more refined taste in their products.

Taste Pairings

“Fitness” magazine provides some ideas for pairing chocolate with other foods for a healthy mixture that packs a tasty punch. Fruit, low-fat yogurt, a handful of nuts and cereal all taste great with a small amount of chocolate sprinkled on top. Consider drizzling homemade dark or milk chocolate sauce over a bowl of fresh berries or low-fat frozen yogurt. Both kinds of chocolate can also be a tasty addition to milk, coffee or soy-based beverages.

‘Dark chocolate is the healthiest, since it has little sugar, its fat comes from cocoa butter and it contains iron and magnesium.’ Photograph: Alamy

‘Dark chocolate is the healthiest, since it has little sugar, its fat comes from cocoa butter and it contains iron and magnesium.’ Photograph: Alamy

Last modified on Sat 18 Aug 2018 16.00 BST

T he average Briton eats more than 10kg of chocolate a year, nearly 3kg more than the average Belgian, who at least has the excuse of temptation from high-quality confection. So it’s encouraging that research, albeit partly funded by Mars, has found that chocolate is good for the brain.

The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, looked at the effects of high-cocoa versus low-cocoa drinks in 37 people aged between 50 and 70. Cocoa contains flavanol, an antioxidant found in plants.

The randomised control trial tested cognition and looked at brain scans of the participants. The researchers found that people given cocoa with high levels of flavanols scored better on cognitive tests and had more activity (better blood flow) in the dentate gyrus – the brain area associated with memory. Senior author Dr Scott A Small told the New York Times: “On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task.”

So, forget obesity – who wouldn’t want to devour enough chocolate to keep their brain working as well as it did 20 years ago?

The solution

The study in Nature Neuroscience was small and didn’t test anyone under the age of 50. Although the higher flavanol group did the cognitive tests faster, they didn’t do better on recall questions that focused on their ability to remember if they had seen an image before. Part of the study examined the effects of exercise on cognitive function and found no effect – contradicting previous research. Plus, you’d need to eat lots of commercial chocolate to get the right flavanol levels.

There is, however, other evidence that chocolate has health benefits. A review (admittedly not a systematic one, which would be more reliable, since it would tell you how the studies included in the review were chosen) of cocoa and cardiovascular health in the journal Circulation suggests that epicatechin, a specific flavanol, may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that protect the inner walls of blood vessels from atherosclerosis. So chocolate may be due some credit for widening blood vessels, keeping their lining smooth and increasing blood flow.

Chocolate has also been found, in some studies, to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Dark chocolate, with 70% cocoa solids, is the healthiest, since it has little sugar, its fat comes from cocoa butter and it contains iron and magnesium. However, since commercial chocolate contains about 500 calories for every 100g, it’s worth rationing it.

If you’re thinking healthy, there are – sadly – plenty of better options out there.

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This question originally appeared on Quora.
How to taste dark chocolate
Answer by Cherie Nixon, dark chocolate addict, best at 90% cacao

It tastes nasty to you , because your palette requires a high level of sweetness to go with the chocolate flavor.

It’s common for people who eat a lot of sugar, junk food, or processed food to need a lot of sugar or salt to enjoy food. In other words, it’s the norm for most Americans, and it’s the reason people from other countries often find our food too sweet. The good news is that by eating natural foods, the tastebuds can slowly be awakened to a whole array of real flavors, and everything begins to taste much sweeter naturally without all the added sugar.

Dark chocolate is available in a huge range of sweetness levels, which can be defined inversely by its cacao content . I’ve seen chocolate with as little as 50% cacao called “dark chocolate,” but it ranges from 50% to 100% cacao . (By comparison, milk chocolate typically contains about 30% cacao, in addition to its characteristic milk, of course.)

When I was a kid, I liked milk chocolate, but started to develop a preference for the delicious rich chocolateyness of dark chocolate. As dark chocolate became more popular in recent years, it also became available in a wider range of strengths. I soon went from preferring 65% cacao to 72% cacao.

My preference remained at 72% cacao until I tried eating all natural food, as part of our Crossfit gym’s paleo challenge. When I switched to all natural foods, my preference for cacao content went up and up, as foods started tasting naturally sweeter and sweeter. I started preferring 78% cacao, then 85% cacao.

I now like 90% cacao the best, and sometimes I even enjoy 100% cacao chocolate. 100% cacao chocolate, when paired with fresh macadamia nuts, tastes to me like extra-chocolatey chocolate chip cookies. Milk chocolate tastes almost like cotton candy to me now, it’s so cloyingly sweet.

So, what tastes “nasty” to you, is truly the most delicious dessert in the world to me.

If you ever decide to give dark chocolate another try, I’d recommend starting with a fresh, good quality dark chocolate from Madagascar , something in the lower ranges of cacao content. The beans from Madagascar are rich in flavor due to the volcanic soils. It gives the chocolate a very subtle berry flavor.

Fresh dark chocolate has a slight sheen to it, a velvety texture, and melts slowly in your mouth when it’s at room temperature. If it doesn’t have a slight sheen, if it has a slight white coating, and/or it doesn’t melt in your mouth with a velvety smooth texture, it’s probably stale. Stores that don’t sell much dark chocolate often have stale chocolate, so don’t buy it there.

High end chocolate specialty stores will awaken you to a whole new world of chocolate that you never knew existed.

I discovered this magical world when I lived and worked in downtown San Francisco for a summer (for those of you in SF: Fog City News, 455 Market St) . They had free taste tests every Tuesday.

That was when I discovered the complex and delicious flavor profiles that chocolate from various processes and cacao beans from around the world can have, created by an endless variety of independent chocolatiers from around the country and even around the world.

When we went in for our free taste tests, we’d list all the flavor notes we could taste in each blind chocolate sample. The store manager who administered the blind chocolate taste tests also noticed that most people need a couple of “warm-up” bites of chocolate before they can detect the subtle flavor notes, and because of that, they usually preferred the samples that they didn’t taste first.

Unfortunately, these chocolate shops are not common, and therefore not convenient for most people. Not to worry, you can also find high quality chocolate online. The best dark chocolates are made entirely from the cacao bean and don’t contain the ingredient soy lecithin (eg. chocolate by la Maison du Chocolat).

However, you can still get reasonably good inexpensive dark chocolate, most of which does contain soy lecithin.

Good, inexpensive, and easy to find dark chocolate bars are made in a wide range of cacao contents by Lindt and Ghirardelli . Anything with sugar as the first ingredient is obviously less than 50% cacao. Stronger chocolates will have their percentages displayed on the front.

PS – We have an entire section of our fridge dedicated to a variety of dark chocolate. (Yes, that’s all chocolate in the back, too.)

PS again – Ideally, chocolate should be stored and eaten at standard room temperature . However, we live in LA and don’t have air conditioning, so the fridge is the next best place for our chocolate. If it gets too warm or too cold, it can “bloom,” which means the fat or the sugar separates from the chocolate. This makes it look funny (slight white coating) and sometimes makes it taste stale or changes its texture. Chocolate is also made to be eaten at room temperature. Tastebuds react more intensely to warmer temperatures, therefore enhancing all flavors.

The Marvelous Choc’s Famous

How to Taste Dark Chocolate October 21, 2009

First, you must find a location free from background noise and smell , such as television, music, a crying baby, road traffic noise, talkative friends etc. Being able to concentrate as intently as possible will facilitate flavor detection.

  1. Clear your palate. This means that your mouth should not contain residual flavors from a previous meal. Eat a wedge of apple or piece of bread if necessary. This is crucial in order to taste the subtleties of chocolate’s complex flavor.
  2. Make sure that the piece of chocolate is large enough to accommodate full evolution of the flavor profile. A piece too small may not allow you to detect every subtle nuance as the chocolate slowly melts. The important thing to remember is that flavor notes gradually evolve and unfold on the tongue rather than open up in one large package. So remember, don’t think small here. 10g should be a minimum starting point.
  3. Allow the chocolate to rest at room temperature before tasting. Cold temperatures will hinder your ability to detect the flavors. Some even advise that you rub the chocolate briefly between your fingers to coax the flavor. This procedure is optional.
  4. Look at the chocolate. The surface should be free of blemishes such as white marks (called bloom). Observe the color and manufacturer’s job at molding and tempering. Does the chocolate appear to have been crafted carefully or slovenly? The bar should have a radiant sheen. Chocolate comes in a multifarious brown rainbow with various tints, such as pinks, purples, reds, and oranges. What do you see?
  5. Break the piece in half. It should resonate with a resounding “SNAP!” and exhibit a fine gradient along the broken edge. This is quality stuff!
  6. Smell the chocolate, especially at the break point. The aroma is an important component of flavor. Inhaling will prime the tongue for the incoming chocolate. It also gives you a chance to pick up the various nuances of the aroma.
  7. Place the chocolate on the tongue and allow it to arrive at body temperature. Let it melt. Chew it only to break it into small enough pieces that it begins to melt on its own. After all, we’re tasting and not eating! This step is crucial, for it allows the cocoa butter to distribute evenly in the mouth, which mutes any astringencies or bitterness in the chocolate.
  8. Observe the taste and texture. As the chocolate melts, concentrate on the flavors that are enveloping your tongue. Melting will release more volatile compounds for you to smell. Close your eyes, take notes, enjoy this moment of bliss, and bask in contentment. Texture can be the most obvious clue about the quality of a chocolate. Low quality chocolates will have a grainy almost cement-like texture.
  9. Now the chocolate is nearing its finish. How has the flavor evolved? Is the chocolate bitter? Heavy? Light? Was the texture smooth or grainy? Do any changes in texture and flavor occur? Take note of how the chocolate leaves the palate. Is there a strong reminder lingering in your mouth, or does it quickly vanish? Note any metallic or unpleasant flavors in the finish. This is a sign of stale or lower quality chocolate.
  10. Repeat the process with a different chocolate. The comparison will highlight the subtle flavor notes in each chocolate. Be sure to cleanse your palate thoroughly before tasting each different chocolate.

In a nutshell, find your “happy place,” listen to it break, stare at it, smell it, and then eat the chocolate very slowly instead of eating the bar quickly.

How to taste dark chocolate

How to taste dark chocolate

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Americans bite into about 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate every year, and it’s no secret why. Who doesn’t love a rich bar of chocolate? Plus, if you choose the dark kind, you get the bonus of heart-protective flavonoids and antioxidants.

To help you pick a bar that satisfies your sweet tooth (and sneaks in some stellar health benefits), we tested five popular dark chocolate bars to find the absolute best dark chocolate. (We know, it’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it, right?)

How we graded them

Here are the three metrics we used to determine each bar’s final grade. And for more, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.

Nutrition

When selecting the best dark chocolate bar, we didn’t dwell too much on nutrition. Dark chocolate bars are pretty nutritionally similar across the board. They all have saturated fat coming from cocoa butter, and they usually contain added sugars to balance out the cacao’s natural tartness. Whether one chocolate bar contains significantly more fat and sugar compared to its competitors helped us break ties.

Clean Ingredients

Ideally, our go-to bars form their bases with unprocessed cocoa, which boasts a higher antioxidant content, as well as contain the least amount of additives.

Texture & Taste

Dark chocolate should be rich, creamy, and anything but chalky. We endowed extra points to chocolates that allowed the cocoa’s indulgent texture and flavors to outshine added sugar.

The best dark chocolate bars—ranked from worst to best.

Hershey’s Special Dark

How to taste dark chocolate

Nutrition: Per bar (41 g): 200 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (3 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients: Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Milk

Texture & Taste: Hershey’s bar was lackluster in both consistency and flavor. We weren’t fans of the texture, and the overwhelming sweetness left much to be desired.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

This treat was too sweet and waxy—two characteristics quality dark chocolate shouldn’t have. This brand may withstand the test of time, but our trained taste buds were more critical of this special dark chocolate bar.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark 60% Cacao Evening Dream

How to taste dark chocolate

Nutrition: Per 3 squares (38 g): 190 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (3 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients: Bittersweet Chocolate (Unsweetened Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla)

Texture & Taste: Ghirardelli’s bar surprised us with an artificial flavor and a gritty texture, which were both jarring and unpleasant. Rather than melting in our mouths, the square left a grainy consistency.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Besides tasting unnatural, this dark chocolate bar had a disturbing sweetness that seemed to try to mask the tart undertones. Instead of dissolving on your tongue as you would expect, this Ghirardelli Intense Dark bar crumbled, crashed, and burned.

Cadbury Royal Dark

How to taste dark chocolate

Nutrition: Per 7 blocks (39 g): 170 calories, 12 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (3 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 2 g protein

Ingredients: Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Milk Fat, Natural Flavors, Artificial Flavor, Lecithin, Milk)

Texture & Taste: Rich and ultra-creamy—just like a Cadbury egg. The squares were small but dense and chunkier than the other bars tested. What caught us off guard the most was the chocolate’s slightly smoky aftertaste. We can probably chalk that up to the natural and artificial flavors.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

The thick and chunky squares were hard to bite into, but the loud crunch was oddly satisfying. The bar boasted an unexpected yet intriguing smokiness, which we were indifferent about. We think this pick would pair well with the earthiness of a full-bodied red wine.

Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Smooth Dark

How to taste dark chocolate

Nutrition: Per 4 squares (40 g): 250 calories, 19 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 10 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (3 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients: Chocolate, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Soya Lecithin (emulsifier), Bourbon Vanilla Beans

Texture & Taste: Perfectly sweetened with bourbon vanilla bean notes, this snack had a milky creaminess and rich flavor.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Lindt’s master chocolatiers struck a balanced flavor that wasn’t bitter or too sweet. It tasted more like an intense milk chocolate bar than a dark bar, making it an ideal treat for those getting used to the taste of concentrated cacao. Welcome to the dark side!

Godiva 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate

How to taste dark chocolate

Nutrition: Per 4 blocks (40 g): 240 calories, 17 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (4 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 3 g protein

Ingredients: Unsweetened Chocolate Processed with Alkali, Sugar, Butter Oil (Milk), Soy Lecithin

Texture & Taste: This semisweet bar embodies the smoothness and indulgence you’d expect from Godiva chocolate. The divinely velvety texture coupled with the balanced flavor made this pick our #1.

Eat This, Not That! Verdict:

Tearing off the edge of the paper shell revealed Godiva’s golden foil wrapper—a fitting wrapper for a treat that reminded us of Charlie’s gilded ticket to the Wonka factory. Indeed, we’ve won the chocolate jackpot here, too. Godiva’s bar was heavenly, from its silk-like texture to the luscious, full-bodied goodness we were hit with in every bite. It was a clear choice for us.

“Store — My Chocolate?”

“Why that’s silly,” you say. “I’m just going to eat them!” And we entirely agree. But you never know — someday you may need to keep your gourmet chocolates fresh for more than 24 hours. And when that day comes, you’ll find the following pointers useful:

Tips for Storing Your Chocolates

DON’T REFRIGERATE! Chocolate easily absorbs odors of whatever’s in the refrigerator (Roquefort cheese, lamb curry — you get the idea). Moisture in the fridge can also lead to “sugar bloom,” meaning the sugar rises to the surface and discolors the chocolate (which has no effect on flavor, but doesn’t look too appealing). So instead of the fridge:

Store it in a cool, dry place. When chocolate is kept at a consistent temperature below 70°F (ideally between 65 and 68°F), and at a humidity of less than 55%, the emulsion of cocoa solids and cocoa butter will stay stable for months.

But even in a cool, dry place: Remember that cocoa butter (the vegetable fat in chocolate) picks up the smell of whatever’s around it. So unless you want your bonbons and bars to taste like vanilla extract or garlic powder, follow the next rule:

Seal them in an air-tight container. Oxygen does just what you’d expect it to — it oxidizes chocolate, which causes less-than-ideal flavors to develop. And although chocolates are not known to be a favorite food of vampires.

  • Keep them away from the light! Not just sunlight (unless you want to make fondue), but also artificial light. They both cast the same kind of bad-flavor spell as oxygen does.
  • How to taste dark chocolate

      Stored this way, chocolate will last a while: Solid milk chocolate keeps for over a year; solid dark chocolate keeps for nearly two years; and white for four months. Filled chocolates, such as truffles, keep for about three to four months (unless they’re full of preservatives).

    Of course, our chocolates never contain any preservatives or additives, so be sure to eat them while they’re fresh! Or, if you have a large supply, create a candy buffet and invite your friends over to share. (At right, a chocolate buffet adds a perfect touch to weddings and parties.)