I hear so much about cocoa content. Could you please explain what this means?
Cocoa content, or more specifically cacao content, is the amount of cacao in a particular chocolate. In general, the higher the cacao content, the more intense the flavor of the chocolate; also, the lower the amount of sugar present in the chocolate. However, this isn’t always the case. While chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more is definitely lower in sugar than those below 70%, the flavor is ultimately determined by the variety of beans that are used and the process by which the chocolate is manufactured.
What determines the quality of chocolate?
The quality of a chocolate, like most food, is determined by the quality of the raw ingredients and the care taken when working with those ingredients. The process begins with good beans. These beans must then be properly fermented, dried, roasted, crushed and conched. The time and care given each step will effect the quality. Generally speaking, high-quality chocolate breaks cleanly, melts rapidly and uniformly in the mouth, and has a long-lasting flavor, much like the flavor of a good wine.
How many types of cocoa beans are there?
While there are many types of cocoa beans, for discussion purposes, they have been categorized into three primary tree varieties: Criollo, Forastero and Trinitarios. Criollo trees, found mainly in Central and South America, are considered the finest beans. They contribute about 10% of the world's production, providing a low yield of beans, are delicate and offer a slightly nutty flavor. Forastero trees, which can be found in Africa, Asia, the West Indies, Central and South America, contribute 80% of the world's production. Their yields are higher than Criollo trees, grow faster and are more durable, with a stronger taste. Trinitarios are a crossbreed between Criollo and Forastero and are primarily cultivated in Central and South America, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Trinitarios produce 10%-15% of the world's production and offer fine cocoa beans with a high fat content.
Why do I notice frequent comparisons between chocolate and wine?
Like wine, chocolate is also very complex, exhibiting similar characteristics such as acidity and an earthy flavor. And just as there are varieties of grapes, there are varieties of cocoa beans. Some chocolate manufacturers narrow their blend down to one specific bean from one region or plantation. The French have begun to call these chocolates "Grand Cru," as they're intended to resemble the true flavor of the bean. Some chocolate is now labeled with its origin of plantation and year of production; this new approach either excites the chocolate connoisseur or leaves him or her with a smile and a mouth full of chocolate.
Why are your bonbons small?
From a gastronomic point of view, we feel this is the ideal portion to enjoy a complex, intense chocolate flavor and offers a more pleasurable experience. In addition to being small, our chocolate coatings are very thin, protecting the ganache and complementing its flavor.
How should I store my chocolate?
Burdick Chocolates should be stored in a cool, dry place. An air-conditioned room is ideal. The boxes in which we pack our chocolates are a perfect means of storage since light cannot penetrate. If you must refrigerate our chocolate, allow the bonbons to warm gradually before eating. Refrigeration can often mask the chocolate's flavor and the texture is less than perfect. Bringing the chocolate to room temperature from refrigeration can also effect the chocolates' outward appearance.
How long can I keep your chocolates?
Because we don't use any preservatives, our fresh, all-natural ganache tastes best within ten days after its arrival. While the chocolate still tastes delicious after those first days, the many wonderful flavor nuances that make Burdick Chocolates so special are gradually lost. We suggest you purchase Burdick Chocolates in small quantities frequently, rather than large quantities rarely.