With Valentine’s Day approaching, and in view of the popular association of chocolate with the celebration of this special day, Discover Paris! – publisher of the monthly newsletter Paris Insights – organized a taste test to determine the best truffles that France’s chocolate makers have to offer.
Co-owners Monique Y. Wells and Tom Reeves visited the shops of a number of chocolate makers in Paris and purchased small samples of plain chocolate truffles prior to narrowing their selection to five confections for the tasting. Because the truffles that they sampled were so rich and had such intense flavors, they limited the final selection to five to avoid sensory overload during the taste test.
The truffle-tasting panel consisted of the following persons:
Only Monique Wells knew the identity of the truffles. For the remainder of the panel, this was a blind tasting.
Truffles from four Parisian chocolate boutiques were selected for the tasting. Chef Johnson provided the fifth sample from her own recipe. One batch of each brand of truffle was presented at a time, so that the participants could focus on the uniqueness of each confection. The truffle batches were labeled A, B, C, D, and E to maintain their anonymity. Participants were requested to judge the truffles on the basis of appearance, texture, aroma, mouth feel, and taste. They were provided worksheets so that they could jot down their observations for each truffle for each of these categories. At the end of the tasting, they were asked to rate their preference for each of the truffles on the order of 1 (the highest rating) to 5 (the lowest rating) to permit them to determine whether they perceived any differences in the quality of each confection. After each sampling, the panelists discussed their opinions about the truffle prior to sampling the next one.
The winner of the taste test was a cube-shaped truffle made by Jean-Charles Rochoux. Apart from the unusual shape of this truffle, the panel noted that it was not enrobed in a chocolate shell, as were the others. Additionally, some panel members noted that its small size permitted it to melt quickly in the mouth, leaving a bittersweet flavor that was not too intense.
Jean-Charles Rochoux is a chocolatier (chocolate maker) who hails from the Indre et Loire region of France. He produces all of his chocolates in the laboratory beneath his shop at 16, rue d’Assas in Paris’ sixth arrondissement.
Full details of the taste test, including the names of the makers of all the truffles sampled, can be found in the February 2010 issue of Paris Insights. New subscribers are eligible for a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription (enter promotional code 935797) and a free bonus gift of Discover Paris’ Ten Favorites List for “The Best Chocolate in Paris.”