Chocolate Basics ~ Shopping for Chocolates

We are going to talk a bit more about purchasing chocolate. There are so many ways to buy chocolate, so many forms it can take, so many treats, desserts, and things it can be in.

Today we are going to focus on buying chocolates, truffles and or bonbons. Or a box of them!

A few treats I picked up when I happened upon La Maison Du Chocolat in Paris a year ago.

These are often bite-size pieces of art. Almost to beautiful to eat.

There are a million forms and shapes these can take, but when buying them what are some of the key factors to ask or know?

A photo taken at The Chocolate Lab in Calgary of their beautiful bonbons. Some crafted with bean to bar and others with couverture.

For the most part it is usually a chocolatier who makes these wonderful pieces of delicious art. Some chocolate makers offer these as well, and these questions hold true for them too.

I know when I shop for bonbons I often choose based on pretty colours or an already assembled collection. Sometimes I just want something pretty, a certain flavour or a little treat. Chocolatiers work hard on each little bite they create; they are small but often take many days to make from start to finish.

Once I have decided what I want to get in my mind I then ask questions before the final decision is made.

I start by asking about the chocolate.

Do you make these chocolates?

This may seem obvious, but shops often may have bonbons, truffles, or chocolate brought in from a main kitchen. The people behind the counter of the shop have no hand in making the chocolates and just set them out for display.

Who makes the chocolate you use in your products?

Here I am wanting to know if it is a mega company, a mid-sized company, both likely mass production chocolate, or if it is a local chocolate maker, or if they make it themselves. This informs me of the kind, quality, and flavours I can expect. Sometimes it is a mix of a craft chocolate and a larger producer of chocolate. A chocolatier may use some chocolate in one truffle and a different in another truffle to create different flavour profiles.

Chocolate from Etat de Choc, where they use bean to bar chocolate in all the bonbons, chocolates, treats, and chocolate bars they make.

Where are your ingredients sourced or from?

The joy of chocolatiers is that they use so many products, chocolates, and flavours in creating a full line of bonbons for people to enjoy. This often means they source ingredients from a variety of sources. They may have a boozy bonbon that has a 10-year-old whiskey from England. Maybe they have a boozy collection made with gin from a local distiller. Maybe they buy their raspberries fresh and freeze dry or dehydrate them in their kitchen, or maybe they purchase raspberry powder from an area of the world known for raspberries. 

I like to know where things come from, I think it is important to know about the foods we put into our bodies and chocolate is no exception to that. Asking these questions really helps to get to know the chocolatier.  Chances are they will tell you stories you didn’t expect, are surprised by, and maybe even the story of how a particular item came to be or the inspiration behind it.

Rococoa chocolates I was lucky enough to taste and enjoy last year when I met Renu in Calgary.

The one question I almost always ask is this:

What is your favourite?

I find this can have a different answer every time I ask it. I often will pick up one thing not of my choice but something the chocolatier or shop staff suggest, tell me is their best seller, or is one of their favourites. This helps me explore new flavours or things I might not personally gravitate towards.

Personally I am a fan of chocolatiers as well as chocolate makers. I do struggle to buy a bar of chocolate from a chocolatier if all they have done is melted, retempered, and poured the chocolate into their own mold.

I am far more excited when they do something that brings out the flavours of the chocolate, or when they combine flavours and textures in a bite-size bonbon that is unique.

There are so many more questions you can ask a chocolatier about their chocolate as you stand in front of their display case trying to choose. Ask away. They are usually happy to share and answer questions. They are excellent at helping choose just the right bite.

What else do you ask about when you shop for chocolates?

Watch for the rest of this series where I will dive into shopping for other chocolate goods, a closer look into tasting, and so much more.

Other articles in this series

Chocolate Basics (terms)

Chocolate Basics ~ Chocolate Maker

Chocolate Basics ~ Chocolatier

Chocolate Basics ~ Desserts

Chocolate Basics ~ Mass Production Chocolate

Chocolate Basics ~ Shopping for Chocolate (bars)

Chocolate Basics ~ Tasting Chocolate

Published by Canadian Chocoholic

I’m exploring the world of chocolate one bite at a time. I live in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, though I have lived in many area of this wonderful country. Besides chocolate I love water, trees and all things handmade. I’m a creative artist and love making things with my hands which lead to my passion project Happy Mail for Chocolate Lovers.

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