Expert advice

How do you read a label?


What is the proper way to taste a good chocolate?


Where can one learn to taste agood chocolate?


What is a designated-origin or plantation chocolate?


What is a chocolate "grand cru"?


When is the ideal time to enjoy chocolate?


How should I keep my chococlate?


How do you read a label?


To start, in order to read a label properly you need to look at the cocoa content, which is one of the most important and sought-after factors; however, it is not the only factor that reveals the quality of the chocolate. Another equally important factor and quality gauge to consider is the origin of the cacao beans used to make the chocolate in question.

In addition, a European directive regulates the amount of fat used in chocolate. In addition to the cocoa butter and milk fat, this law allows a maximum of 5% of certain vegetable fats of tropical origin to be added.

For better chocolate quality, choose “Pure cocoa butter” without any vegetable fat added and avoid chocolates with the following words on the label: “Contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter.”


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What is the proper way to taste a good chocolate?


Chocolate is a source of intense pleasure. The best way to appreciate it is to taste it in a tranquil setting with a temperature of around 21ºC. Shine, roundness, fragrance. The coating cracks as you bite into it. The tender interior gives off aromas and sensations. The long finish, a sign of character, extends the pleasure and invites the eater to repeat the experience.


Assortiment Abanico


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Where can one learn to taste a good chocolate?


The Abanico Chocolats de Création brand specialises in the art of tasting chocolate and in the pleasure of giving and sharing. Tasting and creation are part of its everyday business. That is why the Abanico team is offering Tasting Workshops, intended for individuals and companies, beginning in 2010. You can sign up for these workshops on our Internet site: www.abanico-chocolat.com. We will provide more details when we launch our tasting workshops.

Meanwhile, we invite you to learn to taste fine chocolate with Victoire Finaz, creative director for Abanico and an expert chocolate taster – by appointment only.

For more information : Tasting workshops.

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What is a designated-origin or plantation chocolate?


plantation de cacao

Designated-origin or plantation chocolate is a chocolate made from beans that come from a single region or country. The main cacao-producing countries are located in the tropics, especially Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Trinidad, Ivory Coast, São Tomé, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, etc. Designated-origin chocolates are found under such names as: Pure Venezuelan Chocolate, Pure Mexican Chocolate, Pure Madagascar Chocolate… These rare chocolates deserve to be tasted like fine wines.


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What is a chocolate "grand cru"?


There are three varieties of cacao tree, each possessing a unique personality (like grape varieties), which are the source of the three different cacao crus.

-Criollos

Criollo means “indigenous” in Spanish. The guarantee of fine, warm chocolate, with a long finish. They are found in Central America, Venezuela, Colombia and Asia. Their pods are fairly thin, easy to crack open; the seeds are plump and yield a fine cocoa, delicate and very aromatic, but they account for only 1% of worldwide production.

-The Forasteros

Forastero means “foreigner” in Spanish. For a very bitter and acid cocoa (sometimes astringent). The Forasteros are found in Brazil, Ecuador, Latin America, West Africa, Java and Sri Lanka. The pods are yellow when ripe, with shallow ridges, smooth and rounded, fairly thin walls, difficult to open. The seeds are flat and the beans inside (called fresh almonds) are violet or reddish-brown, almost black. They account for 80-90% of worldwide production.

-The Trinitarios

The Trinitarios are a hybrid variety resulting from a cross between Criollos and Forasteros. For a full-bodied cocoa with a long finish. They grow in the same regions as the Criollo. They were later heavily planted in Central America, Ceylon and Indonesia. The characteristics of the Trinitarios are quite diverse and difficult to list because they are not homogeneous. Depending on the grower, the shapes of the pods and beans can vary greatly. They account for about 10-20% of worldwide production. They yield fine cocoa with a lot of fat. Their quality is much appreciated for their aromatic richness.

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When is the ideal time to enjoy chocolate?


In theory, tasting experts follow several rules when tasting fine chocolate. They recommend being calm, relaxed, focused, and in a well-lit place. Also, according to the experts, the best time is morning, because the taste buds are still “virgin” and awake, or they recommend going without eating for at least two hours beforehand, and if possible feeling hungry. The chocolate must also be at its ideal tasting temperature (20-25ºC).

But in practice, chocolate eaters have their own special moment for tasting chocolate.

In fact, it is well-established that chocolate-tasting has a very strong psycho-affective aspect to it.It can really do wonders for overall wellbeing, making up for disappointments, easing frustrations, pleasing and consoling. The texture of chocolate (smooth), its taste (more or less bitter), and its colour (white, dark or milk) correspond to satisfying one’s needs.

Furthermore, it is well-established that eating an appreciated food like chocolate leads to the secretion of endorphins. So there is no one ideal time to taste chocolate, but a multitude of moments depending on each person’s state of mind and personality. That may include, for example, a desire to share, to fill in a gap, a selfish pleasure, a childhood memory, etc.

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How should I keep my chocolate?


Chocolate is a fragile food, and certain rules should be followed for keeping it. Chocolate does not take well to humidity and heat. A chocolate exposed to humidity deteriorates, and white traces will appear: this is a sign that the crystallisation of the fats is no longer homogeneous.

So it should be kept in a cool (between 16 and 18ºC), dry place, but not in the refrigerator, as chocolate that is too cold loses its aromatic richness. Also, keep it away from odours and light.

You can keep filled chocolates for four weeks; pure chocolate (like Mendiants, pure Origins carrés, etc.) can be kept for more than 12 months.

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