1) Let the price tag be an indicator of good chocolate. Good chocolate will cost more than commercial grade chocolate, as it should. If you are looking for top quality chocolate, expect to pay more for the quality. Be cautious though and take all the other steps into consideration prior to making your purchase to make sure you have the real thing as some sellers may try to sell commercial grade chocolates at a higher price, claiming it to be good chocolate. This can be the case especially if the chocolates are “pretty” such as bonbons or truffles.

2) Look at the ingredients. Good chocolate will have cocoa solids (the actual chocolate) and cocoa butter (the creaminess of the chocolate) as top ingredients. If you browse the list of ingredients and see a bunch of things you do not recognize and can not pronounce, consider purchasing a different chocolate. Real, good chocolate consists simply of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and possibly vanilla, lecithin (an ingredient that keeps the chocolate from separating) and sugar. Avoid chocolates that have sugar as the top ingredient or include additional fats or Dutch cocoa. Milk or milk solids may be an ingredient in milk and white chocolates.

3) Check the date the chocolate was made. The more recently the chocolate was made, the fresher it will be, resulting in better quality. This is a bigger factor for retail chocolates that are expected to have a longer shelf life than handmade or specialty chocolates. Dark chocolate is recommended to be used before 1 year, milk chocolate within 6 months and white chocolate within 8 months.

4) Smell the chocolate. Chocolate should smell like…chocolate. No smell to the chocolate indicates old or poor quality chocolate. Chocolate that smells of anything else means it has not been stored well. Chocolate absorbs the odor and flavor of its environment, so pay attention to whatever is on display nearby.

5) Look at the chocolate. If you can, evaluate the surface of the chocolate. If a wrapper is impeding your ability to see the surface of the chocolate, you will have to use one of the other tips on buying good chocolate to help you determine the chocolate’s quality. Good chocolate will have a glossy surface. The surface should also be consistent, with no blemishes.

6) Break it in half. In order to decipher if the chocolate is of high quality, you need to break it. The action will result in a clean snapping sound. If the chocolate bends or falls apart when you break it, the quality is inferior.

7) Perform a taste test. After the technical details of determining top quality chocolate, the remaining factor is personal preference. The quality here can only be decided by tasting the chocolate to see if it is of the stature you are looking for. Beyond taste, true quality chocolates will begin to melt in your mouth immediately. The texture should be creamy and smooth. Chocolate that is inferior will feel a little off or be grainy.

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