By Kristy Leissle, aka Dr. Chocolate
As Dr. Chocolate, I serve a lot of chocolate to my friends, family, and colleagues. I’ve gotten pretty good at guessing what chocolates they will like based on what I know about them and about the different forms and flavors that I’ve come across in my research and travels. Here are my suggestions for choosing a chocolate for your special folks.
Dark chocolate (50-70% cocoa mass)
For people who are somewhat adventurous and open to new ideas or experiences, but still like their routine and comforts. Perhaps they have traveled to a few new places and enjoyed the journey. They would be just as happy to dine at their favorite neighborhood restaurant as they would to be taken to a brand new place they’ve never heard of before.
Dark chocolate (70-90% cocoa mass)
For people who are pretty active and intense about whatever they are doing: sport, work, study, or travel. They work hard but still have fun. Once they like something, they know they like it, and commit to that thing. These are people who will say, after tasting a variety of chocolates, that they like precisely 78% cocoa. The challenge with this person is that you might have to buy them a whole bunch of chocolates of varying percentages, so they can choose exactly the right one for them.
Dark chocolate (>90% cocoa mass)
This is for the people who like new things because they are unusual or unknown, and love when their ideas are challenged. They don’t mind if the new thing is not completely fun or wonderful, but appreciate that it gives them a novel idea to ponder or a sensation they would not have otherwise experienced. They may also become quickly accustomed to a novel experience and then count it amongst their favorite things. People who like bitter foods or small amounts of intensely flavored foods are also likely to enjoy these chocolates. Definitely not for the un-adventurous.
These are happy people. They are bright and gregarious, and many of them follow a steady routine they established early in life. They like what they know, and know what they like, and are generally able to make others around them happy too. This group also includes, of course, people who love sweet foods. Aim to surprise them with a bar of milk chocolate with sea salt, cocoa nibs, or studded with fruits and nuts.
These are some of my favorite people, because they fly in the face of all expectations. They don’t care what other people think about their choices, they just like what they like and aren’t afraid to say it. They may enjoy eating eggs or egg yolks, or heavy dairy products (notes of which often appear in the best white chocolates).
Single origin bars
Almost universally loved by women for its bright citrus notes.
Costa Rica or Dominican Republic
Better for guys, in general, for earthier flavors.
Pepper (chili or black)
These bars are for people who love a challenge, enjoy the unexpected, or who are really open-minded—ready to accept the idea that, say, chocolate is just as good a savory as it is a sweet. Obviously a good choice for anyone who loves hot, spicy foods. Pepper bars range from mildly piquant to nose-running and eye-watering, so choose this bar carefully. Try milder varieties (often with black pepper, or chili bars that have other flavor inclusions) for people who are open to a surprise, but nothing too surprising, and hotter versions (like ghost chili) for the person who makes the weirdest, most difficult, or unexpected choice whenever they are faced with that option. Also for the very brave.
I believe that there are about three people in existence who would not love a salted chocolate bar, and I have yet to meet them. The play between savory and sweet (whether the bar is milk or dark) is pretty much always perfect and enlightening. It’s an experience that holds appeal for all sorts of people, whether they like sweet or savory, plain or fancy, challenge or routine. Salted chocolate is for everyone on earth.
If there is someone in your life who would love bacon and chocolate, you will already know. Just buy it!