Is Expensive Chocolate Better?

Would does a Hershey’s bar cost less than a buck, and some fine chocolate cost hundreds of dollars for a pound? Writing for the Hungry Beast, cookbook author Mary Goodbody explains why luxury chocolates cost more:

“It’s a complicated process that begins with how the beans are grown, harvested, fermented, dried, blended, roasted, and then made into chocolate. All of these steps contribute to the final cost to the consumer, and because chocolate makers are an exacting breed, they tend to be demanding. They begin with the bean—much as coffee buyers do—and judge the quality of their product on the way it’s handled from there.”

So just like coffee beans, you have your crud and your cream cheese. More variations crop up in the way the chocolate is made, including the relative portions of sugar to chocolate liquor and cocoa butter:

“Finally, most chocolate is conched. The chocolate is put in large conching machines that spin it though whirling blades to knead it for hours. During this time moisture evaporates, volatile acids dissipate, the texture becomes ever silkier, and more cocoa butter and other emulsifiers may be added. The best chocolates are conched for as long as three days, while others are conched only for half a day.”