Have You Tasted Gourmet Chocolate?

Almost everyone loves chocolate, but true chocoholics appreciate the difference between ordinary chocolate and gourmet chocolate. Next time, give a chocolate fan a gourmet chocolate gift basket.

Those who enjoy chocolate understand how it came to be that the evergreen species from which chocolate comes from, Theobroma, means "Food of the Gods." While the stuff found in vending machines belongs to minor deities, gourmet chocolates must surely belong to the highest orders.

According to the Joy of Cooking, the best sweet chocolate is made by combining melted bitter chocolate with 35 percent cocoa butter, finely milled sugar and - depending on the type of chocolate being made - vanilla, milk or other ingredients.
Part of the reason gourmet chocolate tastes so much better than other types is that more care is taken in the manufacturing process: the finest ingredients are selected and used. For example, gourmet chocolate will have greater amounts of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

In addition, gourmet chocolate will also use genuine ingredients rather than imitations, such as real vanilla, not just an imitation vanilla extract. Using real ingredients does tend to make gourmet chocolate more costly, but the difference is worth the price.
Just as wine experts can identify many varieties, chocolate experts can identify where specific cocoa beans came from.

"Ordinary people" can also taste the difference between chocolates. Try a simple taste test between gourmet and regular chocolate. Both samples should be stored at room temperature. Look at each piece. Gourmet chocolate should be shiny with even color throughout the piece. Break off a piece of each: Is there a difference in the sound. High quality chocolate should snap. Rub each piece: Are they both smooth and even? Is there an increased chocolate scent when rubbing?

Now for the biggest test: taste. Good chocolate literally melts in the mouth, feeling like velvet. Poor chocolate tastes waxy. Note the different flavors. At the end of the experience, note any lingering flavor. It should not be bitter or in any way unpleasant.

There really is no comparison between regular chocolate and gourmet chocolate. Real chocolate fans know this. That's why gourmet chocolate gift baskets are such wonderful gifts. Chocolate fans will become true aficionados when they taste "the real thing." Vending machine varieties just won't do.

In order to cleanse the palate between tastings, include other items in the basket. How about some gourmet peanut butter or a gourmet fruit cake? These are sure to be enjoyed. The recipient will have fun deciding whether to eat it up right away or stashing it away for an extra special occasion.

One way to give a gourmet gift basket is as a care package. If someone is going through a particularly stressful time, a gift of chocolate can show that someone else cares. For many, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food.

Gourmet chocolate baskets for corporate gifts are also a fine idea. Most people love chocolate and would appreciate receiving high quality chocolate as a gift. Maybe it is time to give a chocolate gift basket to oneself.

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