The Shape of Chocolate
Recently I’ve been trialling recipes and creating product prototypes for upcoming events and celebrations. As part of this process I regularly delve into the industry, current trends, new techniques, findings and so forth but the following is an interesting piece of research that has stayed with me throughout my career, as well as an interesting experiment for you to do at home (if you ever needed an excuse to eat more chocolate!).
Cast your minds back to 2013 (ish). Do you remember consumers taking to the internet, mostly complaining about the change in taste of the famous Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar? Perhaps you were one of them.
As part of a recent rebrand, Cadbury had incorporated a ‘rounder’ shape to their chocolate bar. Many, including celebrity chefs, insisted that the new bar simply didn’t taste the same, however Cadbury insisted they did not change the recipe. When you’re next at the shops, pick up a bag of Cadbury Dairy Milk buttons and a Dairy Milk chocolate bar (other brands are available). Then, try one type after the other with a sip of water in between. For the best results, allow the chocolate to melt slowly in the mouth rather than biting into it. For an extra element of fun you can taste them blindfolded (our other senses are heightened when one is cut off).
The greater the surface area of the chocolate, the quicker the release of flavours and generally the greater enjoyment.
Whilst a rounder shape of chocolate is one of the best when it comes to flavour and texture, your optimum shape may be different from others as our mouths and taste buds are all different. Perhaps you and your peers disagree when comparing favourites between the button and the chocolate bar pieces?
A study by the Nestlé Research Centre, back in 2012, confirmed the shape of chocolate influences our perception of flavour and texture:
“The Wing and the Sail shapes were the most delivering in terms of flavour (high cocoa, high caramel notes and high aftertaste) whereas Round and Rectangle shapes were the most delivering in terms of texture (high melting, high smoothness).”
Nestle Scientists also mentioned that when the shape allows freely circulating air in the mouth, the flavour of the chocolate is enhanced.
When I develop products, I try to choose shapes that will benefit the flavour. For example, when using a powerful flavour such as chilli, I choose a shape that melts in the mouth slowly to avoid overwhelming you. On the other hand, when using a delicate flavour like caramel I’d choose a shape that will melt in the mouth quicker, like a pistole, to ensure the caramel shines through.
If there’s one thing to take away from this blog, it’s to try everything that’s out there, even if you’ve found your favourite. You never know, you might discover something new!
A Link to the study by the Nestle Research Centre : Impact of the shape on sensory properties of individual dark chocolate pieces https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0023643812004495