Chocolate Unwrapped, Sarah Jane Evans

Published by Sally on December 12, 2010


Title of book:   Chocolate Unwrapped
Author: Sarah Jane Evans
Publisher: Pavilion
Publication date: 2010
ISBN      978 1 86205 859 0
Pages: 240
Price:   £16.99


Chocolate Unwrapped, Sarah Jane Evans

Chocolate Unwrapped, Sarah Jane Evans

Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans is also one of the founders of the Academy of Chocolate, so she knows about taste, flavour, texture and those other nebulous associates of palate pleasure.

Be warned, this is not a book about everyday, ‘industrial’ chocolate. Cadbury’s (Kraft) is not listed among the more than 80 ‘proper’ chocolate producers profiled by Evans. Though Green and Black’s, which is owned by Cadbury’s, is.

Chocolate tasting notes read in a similar way to wine tasting notes, where aroma is just as important for chocolate as it is for wine. For Hotel Chocolat’s The Purist Singe Estate Dark, 72%, Evans writes “aroma of earth, red wine, redcurrants; taste: a lively character of red fruits opens up to savoury, textured roast, with a full palate and light grip of tannin on the finish.”

And where wine has the delicious sound of a cork popping (screwcap cracking?), and wine glugging into a glass, so it appears chocolate has a distinctive ‘snap’ – a technical term to describe the noise made as a piece is broken off.  It should be clean and crisp, Evans says in her chapter on ‘how to taste’.

The wine analogy doesn’t stop there. The new enthusiasm for chocolate focuses on increasing proportions of cocoa solids, and ‘terroir’ – site specificity – single origin, single estate.

Evans takes the reader through the history and process in a succinct first section, which is easily an excellent point of continual reference. It crosses countries, deals with Fairtrade and health (antioxidants).  That Evans has also made wine and chocolate matching something of a specialty area of expertise is no surprise, though she restricts herself to a modest part-page in this book to that particular challenge.

Section two is the directory of 82 chocolate producers from across the world. Each gets one double-page spread, offering a neat, single field of vision, reference. A bar of chocolate has been selected from each producer and organoleptically analysed, so the book could just be good reading, or could be a learning tool for someone wanting to get serious about chocolate – buy the bar and follow Evans’ notes while you taste your own.

UK producers are strongly featured in the book: Artisan du Chocolat, Chococo, Choxi, Demarquette, Hotel Chocolat, Melt, Montezuma’s, Paul A Young, Prestat, Red Star, Rococo, Sir Hans Sloane, Thorntons, William Curley, Willie’s Delectable Cacao, which must say something about the country’s love affair with chocolate.

This is a super book.  Though perhaps I should declare a conflict of interest – I love chocolate.

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