All chocolate is not created equally.
As Lisabeth Flanagan of Ultimately Chocolate in Gore Bay explains, mass-market chocolate — the kind used to make chocolate bars sold in convenience stores — uses the most common type of cocoa bean, the Forastero.
Although cocoa beans of the same variety can vary in taste depending on where they were grown, the cocoa beans used in mass-market chocolate are mixed to produce a very uniform, generic flavour.
“They put a lot of vanilla in it to cover any negative flavours,” Flanagan said.
Fine chocolate, however, is made from the more flavourful and rarer Criollo, Trinitario and Nacional cocoa beans.
“In fine chocolate, you'll get usually a higher percentage of cocoa solids in it, whereas in mass market chocolate, you get a very low percentage of cocoa,” she said.
Fine chocolate is sometimes made from cocoa beans all grown in one place, and can have hints of coconut or citrus coming from the soil where they were produced.
Although there's been recent reports of an impending chocolate shortage as demand grows and production remains the same, Flanagan said it won't impact her business.
That's because the potential chocolate shortage would be with the Forastero cocoa bean, the mass-market variety.
The difference between dark and milk chocolate is basically one ingredient — milk powder, Flanagan said.
Besides being delicious, chocolate — especially the dark variety — has health benefits, Flanagan said. It's a mood enhancer and an antioxidant, and the caffeine it contains gives you energy.
Flanagan gave a group of Sudburians a guided tour of fine chocolate during a chocolate-tasting session at the Fromagerie Elgin Nov. 23.
Tasting and discussing chocolate as you would do wine is something that's probably new to the Nickel City, she said, but adds there's a large community of chocolate tasters out there, and she hopes to create one here.
One of these would-be chocolate connoisseurs is Lucy Plante, who showed up for the tasting.
She said she believes strongly chocolate is good for your health and soul, although in small quantities to limit calorie intake.
“Those who say they don't like chocolate, they are liars,” Plante said.
Learn more about Flanagan's business at www.ultimatelychocolate.com or ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca.