As many Americans have lately begun to refine their palates, they have started searching for higher qualities of chocolates, too. In response, gourmet chocolatiers have stepped up to meet the demand.
Like the other gourmet agricultural products, chocolate benefits from intensive and careful cultivation but is vulnerable to variables such as weather and soil conditions. There are good years and bad for cacao-bean crops just as there are for the grapes used to make wine. Different producers in different regions can produce chocolates with startlingly different characteristics.
The emphasis of this new crop of gourmet chocolatiers is on producing smaller quantities of chocolate that contain extremely high-quality ingredients. Many pride themselves on the higher cacao contents of their products and/or the lack of pesticides and other chemicals used in the cultivation of their beans. While this flight to quality -- to cacao-rich and responsibly grown chocolates -- is certainly a happy trend for those who value gourmet goods, it is also a promising sign for people seeking to garner chocolate's health benefits.
The high-quality chocolates from these gourmet chocolatiers tend to be sold in small shops, farmers' markets, and other off-the-beaten-path locations, as well as -- increasingly -- over the Internet. In another positive trend, however, the mass manufacturers of chocolate have been paying attention to consumers' shifting tastes and have themselves begun to create more affordable, higher-quality chocolates.
More and more, even the lowliest grocery-store shelves are playing host to chocolates rich in the natural ingredients that may benefit our bodies as they tantalize our taste buds.
To learn more about chocolate, see:
Written by Carol Turkington