To accompany the festive menu and atmosphere, chocolate has always been a brilliant choice—both as a gift or a treat to indulge ourselves. But what should we consider when choosing the brand, the origin and the flavours?
Choosing the perfect gift
When considering the country of origin, a few classic chocolate producers immediately come to mind. Although there are many excellent British chocolatiers, they can’t beat the fame and popularity of Belgian, Swiss and French products. Most of the well-known brands come from these countries and compete against the biggest producer, America, where candy bars are bestsellers.
Real chocolate experts can delve much deeper in the origin dilemma. It is not only the country that processes the chocolate or the cacao beans that matter—but the region where the plant was grown is important too. The territory, the climate, the other plants around and the soil, are only a few of the many factors that affect the flavour and tones of the final product.
In regards to the flavour, we cannot rule out the classics, for example pralines—which made Belgium one of the top producers of the world—ganaches and creams, which will always be amongst the favourites. On top of these, most chocolate houses offer seasonal creations, using Christmas spices or typical dishes and desserts, transformed into smaller treats.
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Regardless of the origin and flavour there is one thing we cannot compromise on, and that is quality. Chocolates, as all other products, are made for sale, which means the main factor that drives the production is the profit. This often leads companies to use cheaper alternatives for some of the ingredients.
When it comes to chocolates, producers tend to use palm oil and other vegetable oils to replace cocoa butter, which is the finest and most expensive type of fat to work with in the industry.
The price of cocoa beans moves on a wide scale: for our health and pleasure it is better to choose quality over quantity and go for a more expensive, but trustworthy brand.
The cocoa content is also worth a check: the higher it is the less sugar your chocolate contains. A higher percentage doesn’t necessarily mean better quality or taste, these chocolates can still be made with cheap beans, but it generally forecasts a standard. The smoothest, richest milk chocolates tend to contain around 25-30 percent cocoa, while a good semi-sweet, or dark chocolate should be above 50-55 percent.
Article courtesy of Viktoria Bebok from Leonidas. Leonidas’ new range inspired by the theme of Snow Queen includes chocolates made with 100% pure cocoa butter. With seasonal specialities, including a Christmas tea ganache, Dulce de Leche cream, mandarin ganache, or the Belgian favourite, Spéculoos (spicy biscuit) praline.
Read more on The Master Chefs about the luxury foods and chocolates to indulge in this season.