One of the best ways I fill my time is volunteering at 826 CHI, a creative writing and tutoring center that publishes student work, where I tutor there once a week and teach creative writing workshops. I recently read the 826 CHI Compendium Vol. 2 (published 2010) and found inspiration: one of the creative writing workshops had its students participate in a chocolate tasting and wrote about what they found evocative. I will attempt the same, first giving my initial reaction, followed by a simile of what feeling the chocolate brought to mind.
About the chocolate: Parisian chocolatier Michel Cluizel ranks in the tops. According to his website, Cluizel is “one of the rare chocolate manufacturers to process cocoa beans.” I tried a spectrum of 9 small squares of Cruizel’s chocolate, each a different percentage of cacao. The only ingredients are cocoa, cane sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter and Bourbon vanilla bean.
99% - I think we all have memories of tasting the baking chocolate and how we were introduced to expectation vs. reality. The bitter hits early and has no relief of sweetness to follow.
Like getting lost on your way somewhere and when you finally get there, people are mad at you for being late.
85% - Everyone has their preference. I usually go no higher than 70% cacao. This was surprisingly nice. It reminded me of the chocolate one tastes in mole sauce with just that small touch of sweet.
Like when you’ve been playing a team sport and you get a water break; it’s enough to fight off the burning without extinguishing it.
66% - Sourced from a single plantation in Venezuela. It was the most fascinating. I didn’t enjoy the flavor at first, but then was introduced to its depths.
Like sitting in Krispy Kreme back when smoking was allowed indoors: tobacco, smoke, coffee, but with enough of a breath of sweetness to find the high worth chasing.
65% - Sourced from a single plantation in Madagascar. The beans seem naturally sweeter at the start with a brick-oven aftertaste.
Like when the water you’ve been wading in starts to feel comfortable.
64% - Sourced from a single plantation in Papa New Guinea. Bitter, rich and long-lasting. My favorite.
Like listening to your latest obsession while owning the dance floor with your s.o.
60% - With cocoa nibs. Sadly this square had bloomed—it had that chalky whiteness that indicates the cocoa butter had come to the surface. It was also more brittle. I found it odd that the chocolate would bloom since all the pieces were kept at the same temperature.
Like discovering the DVD is missing from its case after your friends have already come over for the movie night.
50% - Sourced from a single plantation in Madagascar. This was the lowest cacao percentage with any robust richness to it. Milky with bite.
Like a shy first date that ends with a knockout kiss.
47% - Sourced from a single plantation in Papa New Guinea. Delicate, sweet, appealing for its nostalgic qualities, but left me feeling empty. Also a little nutty flavor.
Like listening to a pop hit from yesteryear with today-colored lenses.
45% - I don’t think milk chocolate is his specialty, but milk chocolate also isn’t my preference. This was milky with a slight memory of malt.
Like how a carnival ride feels when your biggest crush rides with her friend instead of you.
You, too, can read the 826 CHI Compendium and their other publications. Or consider donating in support of their free in-school and after-school programming.