SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolate, Good and Bad

It's hard to imagine there could be bad chocolate, but I just had a disappointing experience I'd like to tell you about. I'm not going to blame it on the brand. I think it was something else.

I've been fond of Lindt Truffles for a long time. I love the prettily wrapped balls of chocolate and the lovely bags in varying shades of blue in which they come. My favorites have been the white chocolate and the dark chocolate Lindor truffles with the smooth creamy filling. We had a perfect experience of the Lindor variety, then went for another two bags at the local Walgreen. Those bags remain open but untouched two weeks after being bought, their goods barely sampled. Those chocolates will probably never get eaten, as they were hard and unappetizing and the cream just wasn't there -- literally.

I'm not blaming this on our taste buds, but on the heat or combination of temperatures to which these particular chocolates were exposed. After being purchased, they sat in the car in heat while we were at a movie -- Fall had not yet spread its cold hands through our car interior. Later that evening, the now semi-melted chocolate went into our refrigerator, hardening into wrinkly, ugly looking things. You could also taste the fat in the chocolate -- This, I will blame on the brand or on the particular batch we bought.

We generally first cool these particular truffles in the fridge. But you can't mess with temperatures with the chocolate too much. We should have bought the two bags after, not before the movie.

I am ever mindful of chocolate. I have a charming little book on the subject sitting alongside my laptop to remind me of what I like whenever I'm bored or distracted. The book, by Sarah Moss and Alexander Badenach, called Chocolate, is part of The Edible Series.

Did you know that cacao beans were used as currency in the 1500s? In 1528, Fernando Cortez returned to Spain with beans from his plantation in Mexico. The Spanish would mix the bitter cocoa liquid with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. In 1828, Conrad Van Heuten invented the cocoa press to squeeze out the cocoa butter, making for a more consistent, smoother beverage. Van Heuten was the first to treat cocoa with alkali. The very first milk chocolate was made by Swiss chocolate maker, Daniel Peter in 1875.

I love chocolate, but as someone who also likes pure foods, I'm a fan these days of Green & Black's Organic chocolate, which even includes a vegan dark chocolate variety. Each of the brand's types of chocolate has varying degrees of fat, which comes from the cocoa butter. Although you find fat in chocolate, it's a rich source of antioxidants, which help purify the system.

The best way to savor chocolate is to start with a clean palate, even though I have enjoyed it with espresso. Just place a small square on your tongue and let it melt slowly. The best chocolates taste silky and smooth. There are many varieties, but it seems to me a double treat when you find one that's not only good for you, purely made, but incredibly tasty too!

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