On the Chocolate Trail

How About Some Mindful Chocolate Tasting?

These days comforting chocolate seems more necessary than usual. You could just grab a bunch and stuff yourself to help (maybe?) you feel better. Of course, you could add the chocolate in to your cookies, cakes, and ice creams. Or, you could taste chocolate with a mindfulness that focuses your attention solely on the chocolate, setting aside other concerns, at least for a while. If you decide on the latter, gather up some bars of varying percentages, brands, countries of origin, and consider these steps in your tasting.

1. Appearance: Generally, chocolate should have a smooth and shiny appearance. Sometimes, a whitish tinge develops which suggests improper temperatures in storage, perhaps too cold or too warm. The chocolate is still edible, however.

2. Break: Chocolate should break with a clean snap.

3. Aroma: Smell the broken pieces to see if you are able to discern an aroma. Cup your hands around the chocolate to concentrate the fragrance as you inhale. 

4. Texture: Sometimes a chocolate will feel chalky, waxy, or granular, depending on the processing and the ingredients. A purer chocolate, one that has been ground for a longer time and does not have additives, will melt at body temperature. An immediate melt indicates a higher quality chocolate.

5. Taste: This will result from many factors including the terroir of the beans, the processing of the chocolate, the quality of the sugar and other ingredients. Some people suggest letting the chocolate melt slowly before chewing; some suggest chewing two or three times and then noting the flavors.

6. Evaluate:   What do you think?

Cleanse your palate with room temperature water, warm tea, or polenta. Repeat, repeat, repeat

Cacao, Portland, OR

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and Judaism around the world based on stories from her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao” (second edition, Jewish Lights). She co-curated the exhibit “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” for Temple Emanu-El’s Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum, New York City, now available to travel to your community.

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On the Chocolate Trail

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