Yum, A CONTEST!
Would you like to try Dulcey, Bahibe and Araguani, the new Grand Crus chocolate bars from Valrhona? You’re in luck, the French chocolate maker is offering all three to my readers. And if you’d like to invite friends to share in your good fortune, you’ll want to discover the in and outs of chocolate tasting revealed in the book Passion Chocolat (in French) from Geneviève Grandbois on which I collaborated and which I’m also offering to a lucky winner!
To enter, you just need to:
• Comment below by identifying which new chocolate has won me over in the past year (you’ll find the answer in this post because, ya know, writers like to be read).
• Get an extra chance to win by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter, with a cc to @lynnefaubert so I’m notified.
* The contest is open to residents of Canada only. Contest ends April 30, 2014.
Let’s face it: no kid ever needed a lesson to learn how to bite into chocolate, then let it melt in her mouth as piggishly as possible. But when it comes to fine chocolate, like wine, it’s worth learning the golden rules of “professional” tasting.
For the launch of its new tasting and baking chocolate bars, French chocolate maker Valrhona invited the media to a gourmet event at Patrice Pâtissier, the new go-to address from Montreal’s great pastry chef Patrice Demers. Journalists and bloggers were treated to several sweet bites from Demers and his team, plus a short “class” on chocolate tasting from Valrhona—a technique I’m quite familiar with since the book Passion Chocolat devotes an entire section to it. In short, like the journalists that day, you want to capitalize on all five of your senses to appreciate the fine qualities of any chocolate:
1. First you look
Chocolate should be shiny. A white film on the surface signals defective cristallization (melting) or deficient storage.
2. Then you smell
Bring the chocolate to your nose and breathe in the surprisingly intense cocoa aromas. If you’ve a good nose, you should be able to detect some notes (fruit, tobacco, wood, etc.) the same way you do in wine.
3. Fondle away!
Gently stroke the chocolate, turn it upside down, appreciate its silkiness. The faster the chocolate melts in your hand, the more cocoa butter it probably contains, which is a good sign.
4. Listen now…
Go for broke! You want to break the chocolate bar or tasting square to listen to the sound it makes, which should be neat and snappy. A muted sound from a dark chocolate does not bode well…
5. Okay, now taste…
To taste is not to bite. You want to let good chocolate melt in your mouth so it can reveal its aromas, also like wine. You may be surprised to find its lingering aftertaste differs from its original bouquet. Herein lies the complexity of a Grand Cru…
As inspiration for its media tasting, Valrhona presented its new lineup of 16 Grand Crus in their new packaging, quite pretty indeed and very informative. Finally a packaging that says it all! You’ll find:
• The origin of the chocolate: Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Madagascar, etc. are identified much like coffee and wine have been doing for so long;
• The Flavour profile of chocolate:
• And the cocoa percentage.
A QR code provided on the back of packagings can be scanned using a smart phone, directing chocolate fans towards the corresponding page on the Valrhona website where recipes, tips, baking techniques and pro advice are provided. Even more exciting maybe, several chocolates are now available in large baking bars or drops, including my new favourite discovered this past year: Dulcey! Yes, I confess, this dark chocolate lover has melted for the new blond in town…
Where? What? How much?
Where: Specialty food stores
What: 16 Grands Crus Valrhona for tasting, 6 Grands Crus and a cocoa powder for baking
How much: $6.49 for tasting Grands Crus; $6.99 for Grands Crus with ingredients (cocoa nibs, candied orange, crunchy pearls and pecans); $14.99 for 250 g/8.8 oz Baking Bars
* Photographs by FrancoFoodie or courtesy of Valrhona