Dark chocolate is one of those things like escargot or sushi for some people. “I want to like it…I just don’t.” Dark chocolate can be an acquired taste, especially if you’re accustomed to the very sweet taste of most commercially produced milk chocolates.
But it can be done…and the experience can be an absolutely remarkable one. Once you’ve acquired a taste for fine dark artisan chocolate, you’ll likely not be able to stomach that overly sweet kid stuff again.
The key to learning to love dark chocolate is to ease yourself into it. Don’t jump right into a high cocoa content bittersweet dark. Start with a subtler 55-60% dark chocolate such as those widely available from Lindt. One very popular offering is the Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Bars. This bar features a touch of sea salt which contrasts yet complements the rich chocolate flavor for a unique tasting experience. A perfect “entry bar” for budding dark chocolate connoisseurs and it can be found in most upscale markets and even in many Walgreen’s locations. Nowadays, there are an abundance single-origin dark chocolate bars available in a wide variety of locations. Trader Joe’s is another great place for great deals on dark chocolate bars from a number of worldwide sources.
Dark chocolate is meant to be tasted in small pieces. Don’t gobble down handfuls of dark chocolate like you would M&Ms. Break off a small sliver of dark and allow it to melt on your tongue, releasing all of the glorious notes, flavors and taste sensations. Allowing the chocolate to melt and distribute on the palette is essential to mute the astringencies or bitterness of the chocolate.
Another way to ease yourself into dark chocolate is with filled chocolates that feature a flavored ganache center. Raspberry flavoring especially complements dark chocolate.
Yet another way to develop your taste for dark chocolate is by pairing with your favorite Cabernet or with fruits such as strawberries or oranges. These flavors bring out the wildly complex details of the dark chocolate and create a remarkable taste experience.
Once you begin to enjoy the distinct taste of high-quality, lower cocoa content dark chocolates, you can slowly get more adventurous, experimenting with the popular 70% cacao bars. And for the ueber-adventurous out there…dive into a 82% Scharffen Berger Extra Dark or the notorious 87% cacao Dagoba Eclipse. Now we’re talking DARK chocolate!
There is an undeniable mystique and romance surrounding dark chocolate. One of life’s small extravagances, simply too wonderful to deprive oneself of.
A perfect summation from the Luv & Hat blog by Stuart Heritage: You have to savour dark chocolate. You have to work at it. You have to break off tiny chunks and let them melt onto your tongue, so that all the delicate flavours can bloom in your mouth. You need to learn to love dark chocolate, like you need to learn to love red wine and rare steaks and clever films. That’s much more satisfying than the cheap, empty rush of other chocolate, surely. Dark chocolate is deep and interesting and mysterious.