How to know a good chocolate
Since it is still Valentine’s weekend, let’s talk about that bestselling Valentine’s commodity—chocolate—the delicious cacao delicacy that symbolizes affection, attraction and passion.
But not all chocolates are good quality chocolate.
So I asked expert Treena Tecson, “What makes a good chocolate?” Tecson, an artisanal chocolate maker, has been certified as a chocolate taster by the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting (IICCT) based in London. That means she has the training to taste and detect flavor profiles and flaws in chocolate. She also knows how different factors like post-harvest processing affect the flavors of chocolate.
Good quality chocolate
To tell if you have good chocolate, especially luxury chocolate, Tecson says you can go by appearance initially. See if the chocolate is well-tempered. Is it shiny? Is it glossy?
Next, you can actually hear the exquisiteness of the chocolate. There must be a good snap sound.
Then, of course, as with wine, the nose knows. Check the aroma of the chocolate.
For example, a smokey aroma is a sign the beans were smoked, not sun-dried.
Finally, flavor is extremely important. Flavors can tell you about the variety of cacao that was used, and therefore reveal the quality of the bean.
One can also taste whether the beans were fermented well or not. If you taste cheesy or metallic notes, that means the beans were over-fermented. If it tastes flat or like cardboard, it means the beans were under-fermented. If there is excessive acidity, this is an indication there were flaws in fermenting or in the post-harvest processing.One can also tell by the chocolate’s flavor if there was a flaw in roasting. If there is a burnt, bitter or ashy taste, it means the beans were over-roasted.True chocolate
Tecson learned all these as she became very passionate about chocolate-making when she turned 40. It was at this milestone age that she decided to pour her heart into the craft. She first attended weekend classes and short courses before enrolling in basic and advance chocolate-making classes at The Academy of Pastry and Bakery Arts and Enderun Colleges. She then practiced at home as much as she could, even at night and on weekends. She says she never tired of it since it was her passion.
“Chocolate-making is my way of relaxing and recharging after a busy day. I get to focus on the craft and enjoy the process,” she shares. Soon, she had the confidence to start her own brand: True Chocolate PH.
“I decided to name the brand True Chocolate PH because chocolate is my true passion, my true joy and also because I use real, true quality ingredients. I don’t add any extenders or stabilizers in my chocolate creations,” Tecson explains.
Today, she is a micro/small-batch craft chocolate maker. The only downside to this is that you may have to wait a bit upon placing your order. The upside is that she does each piece with love so it’s worth the wait. She personally hand-tempers all the chocolates herself and does not use big machines.
Bean to bar
She is also now focusing on becoming a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. She initially used imported Belgian couverture chocolate to make chocolate bars, truffles and bonbons. She preferred Belgian chocolate for its qualities of being stable and consistent.
But recently, she discovered heirloom white bean cacao in her hometown province of Negros Occidental. She then decided to source locally from small cacao farms and is even in the process of having her own farm for her personal supply of beans.
This should up her game, not necessarily in terms of quantity but definitely in terms of quality because this means that no two batches of chocolate will be the same anymore as each batch of cacao beans will now have a unique flavor profile.Tecson intends to enhance the flavors of the beans in each bar that she makes.
“As a certified chocolate taster, I am also inspired by aroma and flavor that is why I am motivated to conduct chocolate tasting events to encourage chocolate connoisseurs to taste and appreciate chocolate like you would coffee or wine,” she says.
For her, enhancing the flavors of the cacao beans is a challenge although she is a bit nervous about the fact that cacao farming and processing is still a relatively new industry in Negros.
She notes, “Education and training is the first step in the journey.” She adds that aside from education, they must also work on consistency and proper post-harvest processing protocols.
Nevertheless, she is determined to continue pursuing her passion for chocolate and to grow as a chocolate maker.
“Traveling to different countries inspires me to create new flavor combinations. I taste and see different dishes and desserts and which flavors go well together,” she reflects. “As a home-based chocolate maker, I have the opportunity to experiment on different flavors and I don’t feel pressured to sell everything that I make.”
As with love, it’s not just about the destination for Tecson.
“True Chocolate PH is more than just selling chocolates,” she muses. “It is my chocolate journey.”
For inquiries, visit www.truechocolateph.com or e-mail [email protected] Follow @truechocolateph on Facebook and Instagram.
More from the author at margauxlicious.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
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