Good wine matures with age. Good chocolate too?

Guter Wein reift mit dem Alter. Gute Schokolade auch?
Some chocolate makers believe that aging the chocolate can improve flavor. But is that really true? Does it only really become good chocolate when it matures? We'll clear up a few assumptions and facts!

The purpose of aging chocolate

To appreciate what aging says about the quality of chocolate, let's first look at what the purpose of the aging process is supposed to be. At first glance, it's simply about improving the taste. More precisely, maturing is often also a trick to get rid of unwanted or unpleasant tastes and thus contribute to achieving a pleasant taste experience. It can be assumed that the ripening process can contribute to achieving exactly these effects. However, this only works in moderation! Flavor development - and potential improvement - depends largely on how it tastes when it's still 'fresh'.
If the chocolate has a rather unbalanced flavor profile with conflicting flavors to begin with, the aging process will likely help it taste more pleasant over time. If the chocolate has fewer right from the start but specific aromas and a naturally balanced taste profile, then the maturation is a complete waste of time – because it tastes great from the start!

Can good chocolate age like good wine? Can chocolate age like good wine? ©Hop Heroes

Fresh, fresh...exciting!

So instead of looking at how the chocolate changes as it ages, it makes more sense to look at how it tastes when it's "fresh". What should you pay attention to here? It mainly depends on two factors: the quality of the cocoa beans and the production techniques.
Careful handling of the beans and certain production techniques can help to positively emphasize these special and good flavors. Some manufacturers are particularly good at it (you can of course find the best ones in our shop #justsaying), others are less good at it.
So, as you can see, the debate about whether maturation plays an important role, as it does with good wine, is a bit flimsy, because the quality of the freshly made chocolate (i.e. the quality of the beans) is what ultimately determines the quality and production technology). So, to answer our initial question, yes, the aging process can improve or change flavor under certain conditions. In many cases, however, it is also the case that the taste does not change much at all - even during the course of the maturing process - or the taste simply decreases a little. In this context, we find Raaka's experiment exciting: the chocolate manufacturers from New York did not let their chocolate bars mature, but their cocoa beans did. They stored them in old bourbon casks for several months. The result is a great chocolate with a light bourbon aroma (non-alcoholic!).
We like good chocolate at all stages of the maturing process - even beyond the best-before date, by the way. Here you can find out how to deal with expired chocolate and how best to store the bars.

Raaka Bourbon Cask Aged – really good chocolate Chocolate with cocoa beans matured in bourbon casks ©Raaka

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