All chocolate couvertures are not created equal, there is a choice between many different flavour profiles, single origin chocolates, different cacao percentages, different cocoa butter percentages, etc. So how should we decide which chocolate is right for the creation we intend to make? Let’s break it down!
Based on application: moulding and coating
When we want to decide on a couverture that is suitable for enrobing or moulding, I want my choice to meet the following criteria:
- High fluidity (high cocoa butter content -> 39 – 41%)
- Balanced cocoa flavour
- Cost effective
I want the couverture to be fluid to ensure I have a very thin coating or chocolate shell, there is nothing worse than having to bite through half a cm of chocolate before making it to the filling. I also want the flavour to be balanced so it will not overpower the filling. Finally as this is the chocolate that we will use to fill up our machines, and therefor be going through quite some volume we want it to be cost effective. Personally I advise against using single origin chocolates for coating and moulding as it limits you in scope for flavours you can put into your fillings and add quite some extra cost. The couvertures I like to use for this application are Fleur de Cao or Extra Bitter by Cacao Barry as they both tick all the boxes.
Based on percentage
Ok, so this might come as a shock to you, but you should not choose your couverture based on percentage, not on percentage alone anyway. Contrary to popular belief, the percentage of the chocolate does not reflect the cocoa solids but rather the ‘total cocoa content’ or cocoa butter and cocoa solids combined. You could have a 70% containing 35% cocoa butter and you could have a 70% containing 42% cocoa butter. Both would be correctly labeled 70% but will have quite a different outcome in a ganache recipe if the recipe isn’t adapted to the cocoa butter difference.
Based on flavour profile
The much more logical way of approaching the different couvertures is by flavour profile. After all when we understand the cocoa butter and sugar content of our couverture we can adjust our recipes quite easily to get back to our optimal shelf life and texture as laid out in my previous article. So how to choose flavour profile based then? the first question I ask myself is what do I want to achieve? Do I want to achieve a creation where the couverture is the star perfumed with another ingredient? Or do i want to create the most exciting possible flavour pairing where the actual pairing is the star?
Understanding the basics of flavour pairing
The reason some flavour pairings work, and some don’t is no coincidence. A lot of research has gone in to this, most notably by Francois Chartier who has dedicated a a very interesting book to it called ‘Taste Buds and Molecules’ So why do some flavours work together? The answer is that all foods contain aromatic molecules, Usually when 2 ingredients share some of the aromatic molecules the chances on a successful match are much higher. A good visual representation of this principle is this one by www.foodpairing.com
So how can we apply this to our pastry creations? We usually don’t have a lab at our disposal where we can research the aromatic molecules of each ingredient we want to use but we have our nose and tastebuds to go by. (www.foodpairing.com can be a very good tool too when you need a touch of extra inspiration!) So a few examples of chocolate pairing I have made that work well: Single origin Tanzanie fruity, floral with a hint of turkish delights, pairs well with basil which is also contains floral & fruity aromas. Single plantation Madagascar (Madirofolo) Fruity and citrussy, pairs well with Earl Grey tea as they both share the fruity and citrussy aromas. Single origin S. Domingo Notes of ripe red fruits & red wine, pairs well with Mulled wine as they both share the ripe red fruits and wine aromas.
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