Nfld. & Labrador

Chocolate tasting: It's an edible art form

Alexis Templeton describes herself as a chocolate collector, and has combined her passion for the delicious concoction with a sideline of selling quality chocolate in her St. John's studio.

High-end chocolate is a sideline for potter Alexis Templeton

Alexis Templeton gave Weekend AM host Heather Barrett a tutorial on how to properly taste fine chocolate. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

With Valentine's Day near, you might be considering some decadent fine chocolate for your sweetheart. 

Alexis Templeton, a St. John's potter, might just have what you're looking for.

Templeton describes herself as a chocolate collector, and has combined her passion for the delicious concoction with a sideline of selling high-end chocolate in her Quidi Vidi Road studio. 

'Like wine tasting, it has a long finish.' - Alexis Templeton

When it comes to selecting chocolate, Templeton said there's a fine-tuned process she follows. 

"I do a fair amount of chocolate research and I look for chocolate particularly that's won awards: The International Chocolate Awards, the Academy of Chocolate Awards and the Good Food Awards," Templeton told Weekend AM.

"Fine chocolate is very much like fine wine, in that the language is very similar. And the variety of the cocoa beans and where it grows, it affects the flavour of the beans."

Top quality beans

Templeton said while she brings in high-end chocolate, she's not selling mass market.

"I'm selling chocolate that the chocolate maker has gone to a great deal of effort to get top-quality beans," she said. 

"Crafted by chocolate makers who buy the cocoa beans either directly from a farmer or a farmer's cooperative, and they aim for top quality beans. They all have their secret recipes for roasting and grinding the beans."

A proper chocolate tasting consists of one square of chocolate that you let melt in your mouth. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Chocolate tasting 101

Templeton suggests sampling four kinds of chocolate at a tasting, starting with the mildest variety, and working to the strongest, to ensure tastebuds don't get dulled.

She said breaking the chocolate is a part of the experience, adding it's important to listen for a 'snap' when you break off a piece.

"Then we smell it, and get a nice chocolatey whiff there, and fill your mouth with the taste," she said.

A proper chocolate tasting consists of one square of chocolate that you let — literally — melt in your mouth. 

"Keep it in your mouth for as long as possible. Like wine tasting, it has a long finish."

Templeton suggests to never chew the chocolate.

A special chocolate club tasting event was held Saturday at Templeton's studio, where participants got to sample Hummingbird Chocolate, and an offering from Soma Chocolatemaker.

Both are Canadian chocolate makers, and Templeton said they're considered to make some of the best chocolate in the world.

Alexis Templeton describes herself as a chocolate collector. Her pottery studio has an edible sideline in high-end chocolate. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Templeton said she's collaborated in the past with wine educator and importer Tom Beckett.

"And we've done several port and chocolate tastings, and they really bring out interesting flavours in the port and in the chocolate," she said. 

Templeton said when she's in the selection process for her chocolate club, she contacts members and suggests several potential choices to see what members might be interested in.

"A lot of chocolate companies will make single-origin chocolate bars, so I have to find what they make, and search it out, make a list and send out an email." she said.

"And then we'll place the order ... and it may be there next week, or it might be here next month, and then people come in and pick up their chocolate."

Anyone interested in finding out more about about Alexis Templeton Chocolate or becoming a member of her club, can visit her Facebook page.

With files from Heather Barrett

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