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Seven chocolate secrets that many "chocolate experts" have missed

In swedish

Hello there! My name is Lars Tufvesson. Today, I am going to reveal seven chocolate secrets, that many self-proclaimed "chocolate experts" do not know about. When you have read this article, you will know more about chocolate than many resellers of fine chocolate. Read on!

The seven secrets:

Books about chocolate


Chocolate secret number one:

Why 75% is better than 85%

When we are talking about fine chocolate, many people are thinking of dark chocolate, and they are right: Fine chocolate is dark chocolate. But many "chocolate experts" choose chocolate with an as high amount of cacao mass as possible.

Now, I am going to reveal chocolate secret number one for you:

A high amount of cacao mass does not automatically mean a tastier chocolate! It is enough with about 75% of cacao mass. A higher percentage of cacao mass only gives a more bitter taste.

Chocolate secret number two:

How to find the best chocolate

Self-proclaimed "chocolate experts" concentrate on finding a chocolate with an as high percentage cacao mass as possible. According to chocolate secret number one, this is wrong, because about 75% of cacao mass is enough. The higher-percentage-is-better strategy is the wrong way to chocolate nirvana in other ways too. You will understand why, when I have revealed chocolate secret number two for you:

When you are looking for the best chocolate, you should not use the percentage cacao as the primary factor. To find the best chocolate, look at two other criteria before even thinking about the percentage of cacao mass: The first criteria is type of chocolate bean. The second criteria is country of origin.

A real chocolate expert smells first, and tastes later: Break the piece of pure chocolate in two parts and rub the parts against each other. Smell the delicious scents that are released, and let the chocolate melt in the mouth immediately afterwards. Never chew a fine chocolate piece. Let it melt in your mouth instead, and enjoy!

Tasting chocolate is similar to tasting wine, but while tasting wine is 85% smell and 15% taste, tasting chocolate is 15% smell and 85% taste.

If you want to taste chocolate together with wine, do like this for every combination you want to try:

  1. Drink water to remove the taste from the previous round.
  2. Try the chocolate: Break it, rub it, smell it and taste it. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth.
  3. Try the wine: Smell it and taste it.

Here is a bonus secret

For quality chocolate, you will be able to find information about the country of origin. There are manufacturers (Pierre Marcolini) that writes the country of origin and percentage of cacao on every piece of chocolate. This is very useful when tasting chocolate, because otherwise it can be hard to keep track of the different pieces of chocolate. Here is the bonus secret:

The text on Pierre Marcolinis pieces of pure chocolate is made of real gold pressed on the chocolate. To be able to attach the gold on the chocolate, alcohol is used. It is not every day that you have the opportunity to eat gold!

Back to chocolate secret number two: How to find the best chocolate. Here are som more details:

How to find the best chocolate - criteria number one: Type of chocolate bean.

There are three different types of chocolate beans:

  • Criollo. This is the best chocolate. Just like in the world of wine, the resulting chocolate is often called Grand Cru. This bean guarantees a fine chocolate. Somewhat sweet, somewhat sour.
  • Trinitario. This is a mix of the two other chocolate beans.
  • Forastero. This is the most common chocolate bean. You will find it in the cheapest chocolate. The bitter taste dominates. To conceal the bitter taste, flavors not coming from the chocolate bean (sugar, for instance) are usually added.

This means that the first criteria to use to find the best chocolate is: Choose a chocolate that is made from the Criollo chocolate bean.

How to find the best chocolate - criteria number two: Country of origin

Chocolate is grown in many places around the globe. Chocolate tastes different depending on where the chocolate bean has been grown, even if it is the same type of chocolate bean. The reason for this is that the chocolate bean is affected by its surroundings, for instance type of soil and what other thins that is grown in the vicinity.

This means that the second criteria to use to find the best chocolate is: Check the country of origin, that is, where the chocolate bean has been grown.

This second criteria is a little bit harder to use than the first criteria, because now we are talking about personal taste. You simply have to test for yourself, in your hunt for the best chocolate there is, for what you are going to use it for. Here are some tips to get you going:

  • Chocolate from Ecuador in South America: A chocolate with a balanced taste, that does not vary very much with time. Sweetness, saltness, bitterness and sourness (like raspberry). Like all chocolate from Latin America, this is a mild chocolate. The taste reminds a little about mint and tobacco. In Ecuador, chocolate beans are grown together with bananas, tobacco and citrus fruits. The chocolate from Ecuador tastes good together with a mild red wine. On the other hand, chocolate from Ecuador does not work well together with a stronger wine like Amarone, because the wine will dominate and the experience of the fine and good chocolate will be lost.
  • Chocolate from Venezuela in South America: Smells less than chocolate from Ecuador. If you want to enjoy fine chocolate, let it melt slowly in your mouth. If you do this, you will notice the big difference as compared to chocolate from Ecuador: Chocolate from Venezuela varies much more in taste over time: First there is sweetness, followed by sourness, and ended with bitterness. You will also experience how the dryness grows with time. Many experts agree that the worlds finest chocolate is grown in Venezuela. Chocolate from Venezuela goes well with a mild red wine. The wine will increase the taste of saltness, and decrease the taste of bitterness.
  • Chocolate from Madagascar outside Africa. Chocolate from Africa is stronger in taste than chocolate from South America. Chocolate from Madagascar is similar to chocolate from Ecuador. Chocolate from Madagascar is well balanced, but tastes more than chocolate from Ecuador, and it has a dryness that can be experienced at the end. Works well together with a stronger red wine like Amarone Massi 98.
  • Chocolate from Ghana in Africa: This chocolate smells less than chocolate from Madagascar. Chocolate from Ghana is sweet but not mild. This is the strongest chocolate among the chocolates mentioned here. At the end, you will experience the dryness and the bitterness. If you like Whiskey, try a not too mild Whiskey together with chocolate from Ghana. Chocolate from Ghana also goes well together with a strong red wine like Amarone. Note that the dryness from the Ghana chocolate will remain after the wine. Not even water will remove the dryness from the Ghana chocolate. Chocolate from Ghana do not work well with a mild red wine, because the chocolate will dominate over the wine. The dryness of the chocolate reappears after the wine, and the wine will have more sourness than we want it to. The chocolate from Ghana is too strong for the wine.
  • Chocolate from Trinidad (Trinité): The smell from this chocolate reminds me of mild tobacco. The taste has sourness and sweetness, and we will also find the bitterness here. Some people associate the chocolate from Trinidad with cardamom. This is a chocolate that is good for cooking (more about this in chocolate secret number three). This chocolate goes well with a white wine. The white wine will remove some of the dryness of the chocolate.
  • Chocolate from Java is sweet and works well with coffee. (All kinds of chocolate works with coffee, but chocolate from Java stands out.) Use the chocolate instead of sugar and milk in the coffee. An even tastier combination is chocolate from Java and an Espresso.
  • Chocolate from Chuao (a valley in Venezuela) goes well with thé or coffee. This chocolate has more sourness than chocolate from Java. Chocolate from Chuao tastes lemon and lime. When you compare chocolate from Chuao with chocolate from other parts of Venezuela (that generally has a dryness), you will find that chocolate from Chuao has more "fruitness" in the form of a taste of lime.

Chocolate secret number three:

How to surprise your friends with chocolate in the food

Let us go directly to chocolate secret number three:

Grated chocolate works wonderfully as a taste enhancer in cooking.

The goal is not to get the food to taste like chocolate. The goal is to enhance the taste of the food, and make it taste better. Your friends will not be able to guess that the food is spiced with chocolate. It will be a surprise when you tell them! Chocolate from Trinidad works well in food. Here are some examples on how you can spice food with chocolate:

  • Brown sauce. (This is a good starting point. Little salt, little pepper, and granted chocolate at the end.)
  • Meat in a casserole. (Take this when you have learnt how to do the brown sauce.)
  • Cheese and chili.
  • Pasta salad (spice it with chocolate and parmesan cheese)

You spice the food with grated chocolate in a similar manner to how you spice it with pepper, and you use a similar amount. Note that chocolate is sensible to heat and can not be cooked (the taste-enhancing effect will disappear). That is why you should spice your food with chocolate at the end, when the food starts to become ready.

Chocolate secret number four:

How to lose weight by eating chocolate

Many people believe that they will become fat by eating chocolate. They also believe that they will get pimples. This is partly true for the chocolate you will find in most shops, because that chocolate contains other things than pure chocolate, like sugar and cocos fat. Chocolate secret number four reveals that despite what everyone think, pure chocolate is good for your health. (Some chocolate experts disagree, more about that later.)

Pure chocolate...

  • is vitalizing
  • enhances your ability to concentrate
  • works against stress
  • works against depression
  • decreases the risk for blood-clot
  • will help your love life

Pure chocolate is harmless for your body. Pure chocolate contains many good things:

  • Anti-oxidants
  • A piece of chocolate contains more calcium, protein and riboflavin than the corresponding amount of banana or orange.

You will not gain weight by eating pure chocolate. On the contrary, pure chocolate can help you loose weight, because your hunger will be satisfied and chocolate stimulates your body to burn energy faster.

Chocolate secret number five:

How to avoid luxury chocolate that is not good

Pure chocolate contains about 75% cacao mass and 25% cacao butter.

25% fat may sound much, but here we are talking about polyunsaturated fat, the same kind of good fat that is found in fish liver oil. On the other hand, it might be good to avoid cocos fat, because that kind of fat is not good for your health.

There are many famous chocolate manufacturers in Brussels (Belgium). Many consumers think that all chocolate from Brussels is fine chocolate. Here is chocolate secret number five:

There is chocolate made in Brussels that is not made of the finest and best raw material. Take chocolate from Godiva as an example. They use the chocolate bean called Forastero, even though the chocolate bean Criollo is better. If you want the best chocolate, you should primarily focus on what chocolate bean that has been used. The same manufacturer use cocos fat instead of cacao fat. This makes their chocolate less good for your health than it could have been.

Chocolate secret number six:

Impress your friends by telling them how chocolate is made

Let us move straight to chocolate secret number six: How chocolate is made.

Chocolate comes from a tree that grows close to the equator. The chocolate trees have fruits, that contains beans. The beans look like almonds and contains around 50% cacao fat.

The beans are fermented in two weeks, before they are roasted. The roasted beans are grinded and the skin is peeled off. The mass is heated to make it possible to separate the bitter cacao mass from the sweet cacao butter. After that, an appropriate amount of cacao butter is added to the cacao mass, to get a good tasting chocolate. The surplus cacao butter is used for cosmetics and medicine.

Chocolate secret number seven:

The difference between chocolate cream and truffle that you have to know about

A chocolate cream can be mixed in many ways.

  • There are chocolate creams based on 82% cacao mass that are delicious together with coffee.
  • There are chocolate creams made of strong chocolate from Madagascar that works well with strong red wines.
  • There are chocolate creams with citrus peel inside, made of 86% cacao mass that works well with sweet wines from Madeira.
  • The chocolate cream becomes more white if milk, vanilla and sugar is used. The bitterness disappears, and is replaced by a strong sweetness.
  • A chocolate cream created with chocolate from Madagascar with sugar and butter tastes good with coffee and a strong red wine like Amarone.

You do not need to use cream in a chocolate cream. A chocolate cream can remain fresh for a month.

Now it is time for chocolate secret number seven:

A truffle is made of a special receipt containing cream. A truffle remains fresh only for a couple of days, because it is fermenting. A Whiskey truffle works well together with Whiskey or coffee.

That was the last chocolate secret. Now you know more about chocolate than most people selling chocolate. Hope you will enjoy your new knowledge. Now, it is time to enjoy life. A piece of chocolate, maybe?

Lars Tufvesson runs www.bizzbook.com and can be reached by email: lars@bizzbook.com.

Books about chocolate

Here are some books about chocolate, if you want to learn more about chocolate:


After publishing this article on the Net, a chocolate expert wrote to me, because he disagreed on some of the points made in the article about how good chocolate is for your health. If you are interested, you will find the details below.

Claim: Chocolate increases your ability to concentrate

This claim was originally made by a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true. I checked some chocolate books for evidence supporting the claim that chocolate increases your ability to concentrate, and I found the following:

Page 27 in the swedish translation of the book "Why women need chocolate" by Debra Waterhouse:

"Chocolate contains a substance (in swedish called "teobromin") that is similar to caffeine, and that affects our brain functionality in a positive way by making us more alert and more concentrated, and it also makes us think faster."

Chocolate expert number two replied:

"Teobromin" is a weak substance, caffeine is "better" for increasing your ability to concentrate. This is a subjective experience, and examinations have revealed that you become nervous after long use.

Who should I trust? Does chocolate increase my ability to concentrate?

Claim: Chocolate works against stress

This claim originally came from a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true. I checked some chocolate books for evidence supporting the claim that chocolate works against stress, and I found the following:

Page 26 in the swedish translation of the book "Why women need chocolate" by Debra Waterhouse:

"About half of the calories that come from chocolate is sugar, and this increases the level of serotonine in the brain. The other major source of calories in chocolate is fat. That is why chocolate also increases the level of endorfines in the brain, and the result is effective: A positive mood and new energy.

Chocolate expert number two replied:

You can find fat and sugar in all candy. Fat and sugar is nothing to strive for, except in certain situations of crisis.

Who should I trust? Does chocolate work against stress?

Claim: Chocolate works against blood-clot

This claim originally came from a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true. I searched chocolate books for information supporting the claim that chocolate works against blood-clot, and found the following:

Pages 151-152 in the swedish book "Choklad" av Claus Meyer Nielsen:

"Tests have been done on mice where their food was differentiated. Each mouse was give 0%, 10%, 20% or 30% cacao butter. The cholesterol level was measured on the first, 30th, 60th and 90th day. Those animals that were not given any cacao butter ended up with a cholesterol level of 150, while  those animals that were given 30% cacao butter only had a cholesterol level of 100. The reason is that even if cacao butter contains both unsaturated and saturated fat, the saturated fat is transformed into unsaturated fat in the organism. The conclusion is that cacao butter (and chocolate) lowers the cholesterol level in the blood."

Chocolate expert number two replied that there are a lot of fat that is healthier than the types of fat most frequent in chocolate.

Who should I trust? Does chocolate work against blood-clot?

Claim: Chocolate helps your love life

This claim originated from a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true. I took a quick look in some chocolate books for information supporting the claim that chocolate helps your love life, and I found the following:

Page 15 in the swedish translation of the book "A small book about chocolate" by Jennie Reekie:

"Still, people are debating if chocolate is a love potion or not. There is though a connection between eating chocolate and being in love, or to be more exact: To not be in love. Chocolate contains a substance that in swedish is called fenyletylamin, that is also found in the human brain. This substance is a natural version of amfetamine, that is activated when people fall in love, and it causes the sensation of happiness. When you are not in love and feel down and depressed, it is common to take a chocolate cake as a consolation. Maybe this is a natural reaction to replace the missing substance."

Chocolate expert number two replied: Someone has calculated that for the fenyletylamin in chocolate to have some effect on the human body, you have to eat about 14 kilos of chocolate.

Who should I trust? Does chocolate help my love life?

Claim: Chocolate contains anti-oxidants

This claim originated from a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true. I quickly searched some books for information supporting the claim that chocolate contains anti-oxidants, and I found the following:

From the swedish evening paper Aftonbladet 2003-09-23, referring to BBC:

"Dark chocolate gives a lot of anti-oxidants.
Good news for all who love dark chocolate. Recently performed examinations in Scotland show that dark chocolate increases the level of anti-oxidants in the blood. Anti-oxidants is considered to protect against heart deceases. Milk chocolate or dark chocolate together with milk does not give the same effect. The researchers are uncertain why, but they think that milk can affect the ability to absorb anti-oxidants. (BBC)"

Chocolate expert number two replied that all fruit contain anti-oxidants. This is nothing special for chocolate.

Who should I trust? Is chocolate healthy because it contains anti-oxidants?

Claim: Chocolate is healthy

This claim originated from a chocolate expert. Another chocolate expert said that it is not true.

Chocolate expert number two finished with:

"Everything you talk about can be naturally found in almost all food in different concentrations without someone making a fuzz about it. You do not need to come up with strained explanations about healthiness just because something is good and do good. That is what we humans always have done, especially when it comes to eating something not completely healthy. I believe more in the placebo effect: If you believe in it, it works."

Who should I trust? Is chocolate healthy? (Or is the disagreement caused by chocolate expert number one talking about pure chocolate, while chocolate expert number two is talking about the chocolate most of us buy, that is, chocolate mixed with other substances, not coming from the chocolate bean?)

Tell me what you think! Send an email to lars@bizzbook.com .

More about chocolate?

Copyright © 2006 Lars Tufvesson, All rights reserved.