I know Valentine’s Day has come and gone which is the holiday for hugs, kisses, and of course chocolate but a real dedicated chocoholic understands that Valentine’s Day is for chocolate rookies. So for all you chocoholics out there this post is for you.

Need to get your chocolate fix but want to be conscious about your environmental impact and health? Equal Exchange is a worker owned co-op that makes several products including chocolate. The chocolate has no additives, artificial flavorings, is made without corn syrup or soy lecithin and is soy and gluten free. The ingredients that go into the chocolates are farmed sustainably, without harmful pesticides or fertilizers and Equal Exchange supports small farmer co-ops through fair trade.

This is a chocolate bar that you can tell your friends you are going to eat guilt free. It’s delicious and a healthier option for you and the environment. My favorite chocolate bar is one of their newest ones, the organic chocolate caramel crunch with sea salt. At first glance I didn’t think I would like it because of the added sea salt but my taste buds didn’t agree with my gut reaction because it was Yummy! The first bite of the bar was sweet, then after a few seconds there was a small hint of salt, then BAM! Sweet again. It was a definite trip for the taste buds.

There are a lot of great things about Equal Exchange but this post would last for pages if I wrote about all of them so I would recommend you read more about Equal Exchange and what the co-op and products are all about.

Equal Exchange gives you a 101 on how to eat chocolate which I listed below. As an added bonus Equal Exchange is offering a coupon code for $5 off a case of their chocolate bars. Log on to shop.equalexchange.coop and use the code chocolate5 for your discount. Enjoy your guilt free chocolate!

Appearnce: First take a look at your chocolate. Is it glossy and smooth? Is it discolored? Does it have pit marks? A good quality chocolate will have a glossy shine. It will have a consistent color and a smooth surface, both of which are signs of the quality of the chocolate-making process.

Snap: How the bar breaks is often an indicator of the quality of a bar. A well-made, high cacao content bar should produce a loud, clean snap when broken in two.

Aroma: Before eating your chocolate make sure you smell it. The aroma of chocolate often gives hints of what flavors you will experience once you bite into the chocolate. Is it pleasant? Do you smell the chocolate liquor? Do you smell something sweet or floral; or is it musty or smoky? Chocolate is a complex food that can have many aromas and flavors.

Flavor: Now it’s time to eat! Take a bite of the chocolate, chew it several times and move the pieces around your tongue and mouth. Let the pieces sit and slowly melt on your tongue. What flavors appear? Can you taste any of the four basic tastes (sweet, sour, salt and bitter)? Do you taste any aromatics – the flavors beyond the four basic tastes – such as fruits or nuts? Is it earthy, or do you get a roast flavor? A good chocolate will have different flavors that appear throughout the bite. It is important that the flavors are both pleasing and well balanced so that one flavor doesn’t overpower the others.

Aftertaste: What flavors are left on your tongue a minute after you finish your bite? A good quality chocolate will leave a delicious taste on your tongue and make you want to come back for more.

Why not? Great tips for free!

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