Food

A case for cocoa

Mass-market chocolate companies try to satisfy popular tastes, while fine chocolatiers try to get the best out of the chocolate they create.  

Can you call yourself a chocolate lover if you can’t list its history, the varieties of cacao and their origins, tasting practices and the exact bean-to-bar method? I suppose you can, but knowing these things can take you a notch higher; you could be a certified chocolate taster.

Offered by the International Institute of Chocolate Tasting based in London, the course has three levels of certification. Chennai-based L. Nitin Chordia, who recently completed the second level, says, “The first level introduces the genetics of cocoa and helps identify the various flavour notes and aromas. The next level is about further understanding the cocoa fruit, its various origins, the chocolate-making process in detail, aspects of flavour profiling and the impact of defects in cocoa on the flavour profile of fine chocolates. In the final level, more is spoken about the roots of cacao farming, its practices and its impact on flavour profile.”

Currently, the certification is available in the U.K., Italy and the U.S. Nitin has been part of the first batch of the first two levels. He runs a chocolate-tasting club, Cocoatrait, and is planning to bring the course to India next year. “To qualify, one must have a basic background in flavour profiling and sensory evaluation. You need not be a chocolatier, but culinary knowledge is an added advantage,” he says.

“Fine and small batch-produced chocolates differ from mass-produced ones in many ways. In learning to be a chocolate taster, you can find even the subtle differences. Mass-market chocolate companies try to satisfy popular tastes, while fine chocolatiers try to get the best out of the chocolate they create. The latter ensures that a lot of character remains in the chocolate,” explains Nitin, adding that chocolatiers who attempt to bring out the best flavours of the beans achieve different levels of success. “This effort needs to be recognised, and for this, we need to understand the nuances of flavours that cocoa can offer. The chocolate-tasting certification trains one’s palette to talk to the brain and recognise specific flavours.”


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 7:25:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/A-case-for-cocoa/article14172995.ece

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