Ever wonder why some pieces of chocolate cost so much more than regular dime-store, brightly wrapped bars? If the chocolate is "artisinal," there are plenty of good reasons why. This is no ordinary chocolate and if the appearance doesn't explain why it is so special, the process of making it will.
Expert chocolate makers, called chocolatiers, treat making chocolate much like a painter would handle the transformation of a canvas. From the actual cacao bean selection right down to the final decorator touches, they oversee every step of the chocolate making process with tender, loving care. Each mile marker in the chocolate creation process requires precision and mastery for a resulting batch to be considered gourmet.
Artisinal chocolate tends to look, smell, taste and feel different than lower quality creations. Confections made by masters tend to prove richer, smoother and quite often are more visually appealing. Most artisinal chocolatiers treat each piece of chocolate they produce as a mini work of art.
Many of the world's most noted master chocolatiers hail from the boundaries of Europe. In Switzerland, France, Belgium and beyond, these craftspeople generally learn their trade at a very young age, picking up family recipes that go back more than a century in some cases. While some artisans follow their family secrets to the letter, others put their own distinct spin on the chocolate creation process. The end result is a piece of chocolate that is unique, artistic and generally as much a treat for the eyes as it is the taste buds. There are also culinary schools where chocolate lovers can learn the trade. Although they might not inherit age-old family recipes like other master makers, these up-and-comers take the art no less seriously.
Artisinal chocolate covers many different types of finished confections. From truffles to highly flavorful bars, every piece created by an expert is treated like a masterpiece. Truly fine pieces of finished chocolate command higher prices because of the expertise that goes into their creation. The chocolate might also call for higher quality, more expensive ingredients than other forms. When artisinal chocolate is at hand, for example, many buyers will find the cacao butter content is higher.
When an expert touch goes into every step of the chocolate creation process, the end result is often described as artisinal. This chocolate might seem like dime-store on the surface to the uninitiated, but the flavor, texture and aromas generally give it away as something completely different.