Tag Archives: science

Chocolate 201: Chocolate-tasting classes in Vancouver

Once again, I’m teaming up with the lovely folks at Xoxolat to teach some chocolate-tasting classes. We’ll go into more detail than you’d get in an introductory class, but don’t let that scare you; beginners are more than welcome, and I promise that the classes will be fun, not snooty. Nobody likes a critic—but everyone likes chocolate.

Each class features plenty of samples—and in true Xoxolat style, there will be a few surprises at the end of the night.

Participants receive an $8 store credit (must be used that evening) plus 10% of all purchases the night of the class.

WHERE: Xoxolat (2391 Burrard Street, at 8th Avenue)
WHEN: All classes run from 6:30–7:45 p.m.
COST: $20 per class, or register for all four classes for $75. (Note: due to the higher cost of samples, Chuao! costs $25.) Prices do not include HST.
REGISTER: You must register in advance. Indicate which class you’d like and someone from Xoxolat will confirm your registration. Register now.

About Chocolate 201

Chocolate 201 is a series of chocolate workshops that share the stories behind the chocolate wrapper. They’re intended for people who have some knowledge of chocolate and are familiar with how it’s transformed from bean to bar, but keen beginners are more than welcome. Expect engaging stories, interactive dialogue and the opportunity ask lots of questions.

Chocolate 201: The Science of Chocolate

Thursday, September 29, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Cost: $20 + HST

Chocolate makers work diligently to coax the very best from their fine flavour beans. Learn how two critical steps, roasting and conching, affect the final product. We’ll also explore how playing with cacao percentage and sugar content affects flavour. Hint: higher cacao content does not automatically mean more bitterness in the bar.

REGISTER for Chocolate 201: The Science of Chocolate. Be sure to mention the name of the class when you register.

Chocolate 201: Smackdown! Old World vs New World

Thursday, October 6, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Cost: $20 + HST

In Europe, making chocolate is a traditional that’s mostly passed through family generations. In North America, people abandon other, often lucrative, careers to make chocolate. In this old world/new world smackdown, you’ll hear stories of how people choose to make chocolate, and taste for yourself how each chocolate maker has created his own distinct style.

REGISTER for Chocolate 201: Smackdown! Old World vs New World. Be sure to mention the name of the class when you register.

Chocolate 201: In Defense of Milk Chocolate

Friday, October 21, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Cost: $20 + HST

Chocolate snobs may dismiss milk chocolate as cloying, sweet and childish, but it’s still the chocolate of choice for most people. While regular milk chocolate clocks in at about 45% cacao content, dark milk chocolate can contain nearly 65% cacao. In this class, you’ll learn about and taste dark milk chocolate. It’s an ideal class for someone who loves milk chocolate and wants baby steps toward the dark (chocolate) side, or for someone who simply wants to learn more.

REGISTER for Chocolate 201: In Defense of Milk Chocolate. Be sure to mention the name of the class when you register.

Chocolate 201: Chuao!

Friday, October 28, 6:30–7:45 p.m.
Cost: $25 + HST

Mention the word Chuao in chocolate circles and people sit up straighter. This small region in Venezuela is known for the high quality of its beans. In 2005, Italian chocolate company Amedei won accolades from chocolate critics around the world for their single-origin Chuao bar. Learn how this small chocolate company took a snub from a well-known French chocolate maker and turned it into an award-winning chocolate bar. We’ll taste several bars made from Chuao beans, and you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about. (Due to the higher cost of Chuao samples, this class costs $25. Trust me, it’s worth it.)

REGISTER for Chocolate 201: Chuao!. Be sure to mention the name of the class when you register.

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Vulcano: no-melt, low-calorie chocolate

Everyone’s all aflutter with the news that Callebaut has developed a low-calorie, no-melt chocolate. Actually, I’m not sure that everyone’s excited about the same thing. Most people seem to be excited about the low-calorie part. I’ll bet people in hot places are excited about the no-melt part.

I’m not so keen on either. I’ll admit to mild scientific curiosity as to how they engineered chocolate that melts above 50 degrees Celsius, rather than at the standard 30 degrees Celsius. I’m guessing that they took out most of the cocoa butter, which is largely responsible for chocolate’s meltiness and calories. But then what? Chocolate alchemy, I suppose.

Callebaut plans to market its chocolate as no-melt in Asia and Africa, and as low-calorie in Europe and the U.S.

Okay, it’s pretty cool. I give them that. Let’s take a minute and reflect in the infinite coolness that is Vulcano.

…And then let’s get back to reality. Why do you eat chocolate? Do you eat it because you like it? Why do you like it? Is it the taste? The meltiness? The mouth-feel? The antioxidants? The flavonoids?

Can you name just one reason?

How about this wacky idea: you like chocolate because it’s pleasurable. It tastes good. It melts on your tongue. It causes your brain to release happy-making endorphins. It’s all of these things. It’s a pleasurable experience, and one that you can experience in public without getting arrested.

God forbid that we should actually take pleasure in something. A few years ago, people started talking about chocolate as an antioxidant-rich superfood—a preventative piece of dark chocolate a day keeps the cardiac surgeon away. Mass-market chocolate bar companies started selling individually wrapped portions of their bars so that people could eat just one, without feeling guilty. Chocolate as a form of medicine, chocolate as a source of guilt.

Guilt and pleasure have always, and will forever be, inextricably linked.

I heard a woman at the Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon ask how many calories were in a sample she was eating. I’ve heard some crazy things, but that’s pretty high on my list. Honey, look around you. You’re in a room with thousands of pounds of chocolate. Calories go out the window at something like that. Suck it up and eat the chocolate, or just stay home. This in-between, guilt-laden space? Not cool.

Eat chocolate because you like it. Period.