Squawk Radio

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

CHRISTINA DODD HELPS YOU FIND THE PERFECT CHOCOLATE

When I lived in Texas, I was a member of a non-collegiate sorority, a group of women who met twice a month for an educational program (actually talk and dessert.) My sorority was a bunch of crazies — so crazy, I’m the sane one. They would dispute that, but I’m writing the piece, and besides, one year they insisted I take the office of president, which tells you all you need to know.

One week, the meeting was at my house and the program was my program, so I decided we should research a subject of crucial importance to all women - which brand of chocolate tastes the best.

I felt we were well qualified for such a crucial job. Our dedication to M&Ms speaks for itself.

HOW TO DO A CHOCOLATE TASTING
You need:
—Apples and grapes to clear your palate between tastings.
—Score sheets divided into charts with the title of the chocolate (example: white chocolate A), a place for the score, and comments.
—Three white chocolates
—Three milk chocolates
—Three dark chocolates
Note: You could do four or five different kinds of white, milk and dark, but tasting nine chocolates in one setting seems to be the optimum most women can handle. We did Ghirardelli, Hershey’s and Godiva, except in the white. In the white, we couldn’t find Hershey’s (except for the ones with the oreo cookies in them), so we opted for Lindt.

You also need:
—A husband who’s willing to melt all the chocolates, then drop them on a cookie sheet in separate, formless blobs so they’re unrecognizable by their shape.
—A husband who’s willing to dress up, speak in fake British accent, and act as your chocolate steward.
—In this case, my husband performed all duties because the chocolate tasting was his idea. Yes, he is a genius.

We started with the whites (the least intensive flavor) and worked our way to the darks (the most intensive flavor.) Most of our testers ate only a bite of each chocolate, although it was a wrench to throw that candy away. Only Scott knew which brands we were tasting, so it really was an honest taste test.

Here are the resulting scores on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being great, and a few of the comments.

WHITE CHOCOLATE
LINDT Swiss Classic — 6.625 * (Very flavorful – yum)
GODIVA Solid Ivory — 6.375 (Tasted like frosting!)
GHIRARDELLI Classic White — 3.125 (Yuck!)

MILK CHOCOLATE
GHIRARDELLI — 4.11 (Kinda tastes like peanut butter)
HERSHEY’S — 7.89 ** (Hershey’s!)
(my note: almost everyone recognized the taste of Hershey’s)
GODIVA — 3.125 (Too plastic)

DARK CHOCOLATE
GODIVA Dark Chocolate — 5.33 (Not bad)
GHIRARDELLI Double Chocolate — 3.22 (Tart!)
HERSHEY’S Special Dark — 8.22 *** (Smooth and sweet)

As you can see, Lindt took the honors in white chocolate, although it didn’t beat Godiva by much. In the other two categories, Hershey’s was the clear winner, with the Hershey’s special dark taking top honors.

Personally, I felt pretty smug. Hershey’s is my favorite, and it won!

Our chocolate tasting took place exactly one week after the collapse of the World Trade Center. That meeting held a special poignancy for me. These women are my friends, and after that tragedy, the chance to see them, to rejoice in their humor, to wrap myself in their camaraderie made me feel safe and secure at a time when we were aching with a national tragedy and facing the fact that American life had changed forever. What remained the same was friends, family — and chocolate.

Do you have a group of best friends that stick together through thick and thin? What are your traditions? What kind of foods and what experiences, wonderful or horrible, bind you together?
Christina Dodd, 12:17 PM
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