If you go looking for a chocolate bar in Whole Foods these days, you’ll find that things are a lot different from the days when supermarket shelves were stacked with nothing but Hershey’s and Snickers, and maybe some Godiva if the place had some ambition. The designer chocolate boom is in full swing, and now it’s all beautifully wrapped, hand-crafted bars emblazoned with cacao percentages and information about the farm where the beans came from.
One thing’s for sure: a Mast Brothers black-truffle chocolate bar made in Brooklyn makes a better gift than a bag of bite-size Milky Ways. But in terms of your regular chocolate-eating needs, there are plenty of questions to be asked of the modern chocolatier: What do cacao percentages even mean? Why are single-origin chocolates supposed to be tastier? And while we’re at it, what’s the deal with chocolate being healthy?
We decided it was time to holler at a chocolate pro to get some answers.
Based out of L.A., Compartes Chocolatier is helmed by new-wave chocolate mastermind Jonathan Grahm. When he was 19, Grahm began making chocolates for fun without ever attending a culinary class or going through any formal chocolatier training. Turns out he wasn’t half bad at it. Since then, his chocolates have been named “Top of the Nation” by Food & Wine Magazine, he has worked as a chocolate expert for Oprah, and he’s built a mini empire of seven stores abroad in Tokyo.
Here, Grahm schools us to the things you need to know to be an informed chocolate consumer, tackling everything from health benefits to the real differences between dark, milk, and white varieties.
Chocolate class is in session.
Interview by Hannah Norwick (@HannahNorwick)