When an industry professional recently took a blind chocolate taste test, the results were fascinating. The job of a chocolate expert seems like something we'd all love to do. Surely it just involves sitting around eating sticky brown treats, right? But how much do chocolatiers actually know? Is there really enough of a difference between expensive choc and the cheaper grocery store alternative? Can you trust the high gourmet prices to actually deliver a unique experience? Or is it all just a marketing ploy to get you to pay more for your snacks? In case you've ever wondered just what makes a chocolate so expensive, Amy Guittard of Guittard Chocolate Company has undergone a blind taste test of several different kinds of cocoa-based treats. The results are very surprising - it turns out there really are some qualities that make different brands of creamy chocs stand out from one another!
The Blind Test
Amy Guittard has devoted her life to chocolate. If anyone is qualified to tell the difference between cheap and expensive stuff, it's her. So let's see what happens when she tries to tell different cocoa products apart in a blind test.
First Up, Choc Chips
Guittard starts her taste test with some choc chips, often used in baking. Even before putting any in her mouth, she already has a good idea of which one might be cheaper based on appearance alone.
The A chips have a white powder residue on the surface, which Guittard explains is bloom, a side effect of improper cooling. This suggests that these chips were made particularly quickly, although that doesn't necessarily affect taste.
Sugar Up Front
As Guittard starts snacking on these chips, the first thing she tastes is sugar. This again suggests that the chips have been made very quickly in a hurried refining process, leading to an inferior finished product.
By contrast, the B chips taste more distinctly of cocoa, and have a mellow, richer taste. Guittard says she could happily eat the whole pot.
An Educated Guess
Based on her observations, Guittard suspects that the B chips are the more expensive of the two, as they certainly taste a lot nicer. There's only one way to find out...
Guittard was right! There's not a huge difference in price between these two, but the difference in quality is enough to mark the more expensive chips as a far better taste experience. Now, on to the next challenge!
This time, Guittard is trying milk chocolate bars. Again, without having to put either sample anywhere near her mouth, she's already spotted some visual cues that tell her which is cheaper.
Rough Around The Edges
The B bars have a noticably rough texture on the edge, which yet again, is no indication of cocoa bean quality, but rather to do with a hurried refining process. It turns out that ingredients are only half the battle - a lot of the quality of a finished chocolate comes from how long it took to make the product.
Time To Taste
Guittard starts off with the A sample, and is instantly very happy. She can taste some soft, chocolatey flavor that leads her to believe that this is a high quality bar. All that's left is to check its competition.
Time For The Competition
And so, Guittard, reaches for a sample of the B chocolate. Little does she realize just how much this is going to affect her.
Not A Pleasant Experience
It's clear from her face that Guittard is not impressed by this second bar. While cheap stuff might be fine for casual food enthusiasts, her refined palate can easily spot a pretender to the throne.
An Easy Choice
Without hesitation, Guittard announces that A is the better bar. Quite aside from anything, it didn't make her gag as she tried to eat some! But did she get it right?
A Big Difference
Turns out, yup, Guittard got it right again. The chocolate that she loathed is about as cheap as you can find, while the other stuff is a solid, expensive brand that deserves its price tag.
Guittard is pleased with her success a second time. While she'd expected sample B to be cheaper, she hadn't anticipated such a difference in price!
Whites Move Third
Next up are some white chocolate buttons - although Guittard is already hesitant about one sample. It seems that a good chocolatier can often tell a bad choc from a good one based on appearance alone.
An Important Rule
According to Guittard, not all white treats are technically chocolate. In order to be called white chocolate, a food needs to contain at least 20% cocoa butter. Guittard has her doubts about the buttons that are so luminous white in color.
Trying The Good Stuff
Reaching for the yellower buttons first, Guittard has to wait a second for the flavor to reach her. White chocolate melts at body temperature, so it has to warm up on her tongue for a second before she can really enjoy the taste.
A Hesitant Approach
Guittard really isn't keen on sample B, and takes a tiny bite of a broken up button. For something to be this white, it's probably filled with additives, and she doesn't really want this in her body!
Guittard's suspicions prove accurate again. It turns out that the A buttons are far more expensive. This is likely because the B buttons might not technically be chocolate at all!
Things Get Dark
Finally, Guittard tries some dark chocolate. Again, she spots some visual cues - air bubbles in the B bars suggest a hurried manufacture, and, she thinks, makes for a less impressive-looking food.
Guittard tries the A chocolate first, and is pleased by the flavor. By contrast, the B chocolate is "sipping chocolate" - something that you can only eat in small bursts because of its intensity.
An Unexpected Result
Guittard correctly asserts that the B bars are more expensive, even if she prefers the A bars. What she doesn't see coming is the enormous difference in price between the two.
So apparently, some chocolate does come with an unnecessary price tag! Guittard insists that as long as you're enjoying what you're eating, more expensive isn't necessarily better.