Discover just how to organize the chocolate tasting and weigh up the differences in the chocolate you choose to taste. And, discover our easy ideas for hosting tasting parties with all kinds of themes, any time of year!
- Take time to learn about chocolate. The tips on ‘Cooking and Baking with Chocolate’ are one way to begin to solve the mystery. Look for the tips about trying some of the new chocolates you’re seeing in the baking aisle of supermarkets.
- Then, take a walk down the candy aisle at your grocers or big-box retailer, to say nothing of all the specialty stores with chocolate choices. Check out the chocolate bars. Bars are the easiest for tasting.
- Here are some of the ways you’ll see chocolate bars sold today: White, Milk, Semisweet, Dark, Bittersweet. Many fine chocolates are made here; many European countries are famous for their chocolates.
- Two trends to note: chocolate bars with cacao percentage noted and those that are called single origin, showing the source of the cocoa beans (up to now most chocolates were blends from several places.)
- Sample until you find several you’d like to try. Limit your choices to four or five plain bars. No need to experience overload. And, save room for the evening’s chocolate dessert.
- Select chocolate based on a variety of characteristics or all one type, like dark with varying cacao percentage. Compare the chocolate bar you liked as a kid to those for a more grown-up taste. Compare best values at a certain price. Compare American chocolate to those from France or Belgium.
- When you taste, start with the lightest chocolate and end with the darkest. Have cool water to clear palates between tastes.
How Much Is Enough
- Small amounts for each per person are enough. Depending on the number of guests 1 bar each may be plenty.
- Prepare each guest a plate of the chocolates to be tasted. Make sure guests know which is which. Or taste ‘blind’ (without knowing the identity) by coding with numbers if chocolates vary greatly in price!
- One well-chosen dessert or a selection is, in the end, up to you. You know best what your friends like and you have time to do.
- Dark-roasted coffees are a great pairing with dark or bittersweet chocolate desserts.
- The same goes for pairing chocolate and wine: lighter, sweeter wines with white and milk chocolate, darker, more complex wines with dark and bittersweet chocolate. Ask your wine merchant for help.
Compare chocolates based on these five characteristics:
- Appearance/Aroma: First impression of the look and smell before tasting.
- Texture: The feel of the chocolate in your mouth as you let it melt in your mouth.
- Flavor: The total impression of appearance, aroma and texture combined with the flavors you discover as your taste buds are stimulated. Are characteristics balanced? Identify specific taste attributes: Bitterness, sweetness, sourness, chocolaty, fruity, nutty, caramel-like, toffee-like, vanilla, smoky, flowery.
- Finish: The flavors that remain after tasting. The big question: Do you like it?
Two Favorite Chocolate Tasting Party Plans
Chocolate on the Light Side
Selection of domestic and imported milk chocolates
Unflavored buttery crackers
White Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
Triple-Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Chocolate on the Dark Side
Selection of dark and bittersweet chocolates—various percentages cacao
Unflavored buttery crackers
Bittersweet Chocolate Cheesecake with White Truffle Sauce
Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Truffles
Make the Most of Your Time
- Early in the day or evening before, prepare 1 or more of the ‘taste treats’ you’ve chosen.