If you are a fan of the French cuisine, you must also be a “chocoholic”! Ah, could any other ingredient be more glorious, enchanting and inspiring than French chocolate? No matter if you use it for cooking or keep it in your purse as a perfect uplifting remedy to transform even the gloomiest day - chocolate is indeed the best friend of every woman.
Today, I will guide you through all-you-need-to know-about-chocolate - to help you get the most out of your French chocolate experience! :)
Chocolate came to Europe from the Mesa-American civilizations of Maya and Aztecs, where it was considered the “heavenly drink” and the “food of the Gods”. It is curious to know that the French, who now produce the best types of chocolate in the world, were initially sceptical and considered chocolate a poisonous substance. Later, it was approved by the Paris Faculty of Medicine as an expensive drug to fight fatigue and “women’s blues”. Then, chocolate had been reserved only for the royal family and the elite until the French Queen, Anne of Austria, declared it as the drink of France. The first chocolate house was open by a Frenchman in London in 1657, and by the eighteenth century chocolate houses had become pretty common in France.
The best and greatest French “Chocolatiers” use high-quality cacao and traditional techniques to create a harmonious and balanced blend of rich flavours and complex nuances for a taste that almost defies description. Prepared with all natural ingredients, chocolate
- increases our energy and focus.
It contains theobromine, caffeine, phenyl-ethylamine and serotonin, which help us:
- - fight depression,
- - stimulate the brain function,
- - strengthen the cardiac activity,
- - encourage the mental abilities, and
- - counteract tiredness.
Among numerous types of unsweetened, semi-sweet, bittersweet and milk chocolate, darker and bitter varieties with more than 50 percent cocoa butter are the most precious and expensive, with a superior flavour and a rich, divine taste. According to “The Chocolate Companion” by expert Chantal Coady, the following French chocolatiers have been given the highest rank for their outstanding quality:
- - Lyon,
- - Nancy,
- - Paris,
- - Quiberon,
- - Reims,
- - Rennes, and
- - Toulouse.
I would also add to this glorious list French
- Valrhona and
- Bel Amber - chocolate that includes fried fruits, whole nuts and herbs, and which is one of my favourite.
To preserve the taste and aroma, store French chocolate in its original wrapping in a cool, dry place, but avoid refrigeration. High-quality varieties will keep for several years! Savouring chocolate is an adventure compared with savouring wines, and it indeed tastes the best when combined with a right type of wine. When pairing them together, make sure that the level of sweetness of your French chocolate and wine are kept short.
- Match milk and some fruitful dark chocolates with dry white wines, like Riesling or Chardonnay, or Demi-Sec and Rose Champagnes.
- Very dry Champagnes, like Brut, are not the best match for any chocolate since the sweetness of the chocolate exaggerates the bitterness of the wine.
- Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a sweet wine from the Southern region of France, which has the flavours of spices and orange peel, reaches its heights with dark chocolates.
- Rimage and Banyuls, a fortified wine from the Southern France, are probably the greatest sweet wines to combine with chocolate - they match perfectly with fruity Bel Amber.
- Red wines like Cabernets, Merlot, or Zinfandel can be a challenge to combine with chocolate - try to savour them together with darker bitter-sweet French chocolate that offers more spice and earthy herbal notes.