WITI Offline - A Tasting Tour of Fine Chocolates

Emily Ubik

December 04, 2012

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WITI Boston - November 28, 2012
WITI Offline "A Tasting Tour of Fine Chocolates"
By Emily Ubik


Last week WITI Boston members gathered for an evening of chocolate tasting, wine, and good conversation at The Fairmont Battery Wharf. It was a festive, intimate setting complete with a view of the water, a lighted tree, and a flickering fireplace. Each attendee was greeted at the entrance and invited to have appetizers and to join in on the conversation.

Guest speaker Walter Plante, a connoisseur of artisan chocolates and co-founder of New Leaf Chocolates (www.newleafchocolates.com), shared his appreciation for the savory treat. He started off the tasting tour by passing around a bar of regular chocolate that you can buy at any grocery store. He asked everyone to smell it, and to remember it, so as to compare it to the other chocolates they were about to taste. The attendees sampled chocolate from all over the world, including countries as far away as Ecuador, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea. While the samples were mainly dark chocolate, each piece was markedly different. One incorporated lemongrass, another sea-salt, while yet another was in a rough stone ground style. The participants had fun guessing what was, or was not in some cases, added in to the chocolate. The new flavors and variety of the chocolate were astonishing; the regular bar of chocolate was no comparison.

While the chocolate was being enjoyed, Walter shared his extensive knowledge of the subject, telling of chocolate's origins in the ancient Olmec culture as a drinking beverage and as a currency. He also outlined the process of how chocolate is made. The first step involves the cacao, first found on a tree. It is fermented, dried, and then roasted. Next, the cocoa bean goes through conching, where the flavor of the chocolate is developed through the manipulation of temperature. Now in the form of chocolate liquor, it is refined and finally cooled. Add sugar and vanilla, and it will be ready to eat!

Walter mentioned the health benefits of chocolate as well. In fact, you may be surprised to discover that antioxidants found in chocolate are five times higher than those found in blueberries. No more feeling guilty about having a piece of chocolate everyday! As far as storing your chocolate, he advised keeping it in a dry, cool place. At all costs, avoid the refrigerator where the chocolate will absorb unwanted odors, such as garlic. A 'bloomed' bar has a white layer on it that forms from being too warm for too long. A bar that had bloomed was passed around to show the effects of poor storage. For a heightened chocolate eating experience, it was recommended that you let it warm right before consuming. Walter answered questions and ended the tasting tour by inviting everyone to further explore the depth and variety of chocolate.

Throughout the event, several fun prizes were raffled off. Prizewinners received either a complimentary cocktail, a gift card to a local coffee shop, or chocolate, of course! Together the attendees learned about the art of making and eating chocolate at this relaxed networking event. Everyone was welcoming, interested in getting to know others, and looking to have a good time with good company. The evening concluded with the continued exchange of conversation and business cards, and a new appreciation for fine chocolate.

About Our Guest Author:
Emily Ubik is a sophomore at Boston University pursuing a double major in electrical engineering and archaeology. She comes to Boston from the mid-west and was interested in getting to know women in business and making connections. She came across Women in Technology through her father, when he mentioned that WITI was trying to become more involved with universities. She is now an active member of the local network and will be writing many more articles in 2013.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.


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