26 Oct 2023
The huge variety of products and applications offers a whole world of different flavors, aromas, textures, and applications to be explored. Having the understanding and language to describe the full sensory experience of chocolate to consumers is essential for chocolatiers and dessert makers of all kinds.
With professional insight from our Puratos Sensory Analysis team, we’ve outlined how you can improve the way you articulate to describe your experience like a professional.
Whilst there are differences in approach to describing taste, using a flavor wheel is a useful reference tool to understand different flavors and their relation to each other.
At Puratos, we use this flavor wheel to describe chocolate flavors:
As you can see, towards the center of the wheel are the broader flavor groups that encompass the nuanced tastes. These are fruity, brown notes, vegetal, fermented, spicy, taste, dairy, sweet, and floral.
When tasting chocolate, you can use these broader groups to identify the flavors you’re experiencing, and as you travel further towards the outer second and third levels, you can try to pinpoint more accurately the nuanced notes within the chocolate.
Use the flavor wheel and attribute a scale of flavor to it. At Puratos, we use the Likert Scale of 0 to 7 to note how powerful a particular flavor or note is.
When describing the visual aesthetic of chocolate, there are a number of key attributes to pay attention to.
The most important to look out for are:
A glossy finish to chocolate or a chocolate product can give an added allure to a recipe and improve the overall experience.
Equally, in some instances, a lack of shine can be used to enhance the experience, depending on the context of the dish.
This bloom is a white or greyish coating that is sometimes present on chocolate. The aesthetics of this can have a big impact on the overall experience of eating chocolate.
Fat bloom = white appearance and smooth to the touch.
This is linked to the recrystallization of cocoa butter and exposure to high temperatures or a fluctuation in temperature.
Sugar bloom = white appearance but rough to the touch.
Sugar bloom is linked to the recrystallization of sugar and is typically present when condensation is formed on the chocolate.
This is specifically for when chocolate has been used in a recipe, like enrobing a cake, for example.
In the example of chocolate enrobing a cake, the chocolate must uniformly cover the cake. How the chocolate enrobes the cake and the aesthetic result will be linked to the functionality and technical skill needed for the final product.
When it comes to describing the mouthfeel of chocolate, here are the most relevant attributes to look for:
To understand how smooth a chocolate or chocolate product is, you simply have to try to evaluate the presence of particles on your tongue when eating it.
The scale of smoothness is from grainy to smooth. When eating, if you can detect more particles on your tongue, then the texture is more grainy. Conversely, the fewer particles you can feel, the smoother it is.
Dry to feel how much the product sticks to your teeth, tongue, and palate and how much force is needed to remove the chocolate from your teeth and palate.
3. Melting behavior
The melting behavior is very important for the mouthfeel of chocolate. Note how fast the chocolate melts in the mouth. When it melts, does it cover the palate well?
If the chocolate does not melt well, it can be perceived as dry. Dryness can occur in chocolate when it is not well-tempered or when the chocolate has low-fat content.
You can learn directly from our Sensory Analysis experts with bespoke sensory training and consulting.
If you want to undertake a sensory study, we can advise and train you on how to design your study, guide you on the best study methods, and show you how to analyze data, in addition to providing insight into sensory vocabulary, among other things.
Contact your local representative to learn more about the sensory services available in your country.