Because let’s face it, when it comes to chocolate, most of us would prefer to eat it than taste it.
But the benefit of experiencing chocolate like this is that you do get to taste all the chocolate you want, at once. It gives you the chance to experiment with flavors and brands you’d never have tried before. It’s a fun way to build up your knowledge about chocolate.
And when it comes to recommending chocolate for friends, or buying for presents, you’ll know what you’re talking about.
Like a wine tasting, a chocolate tasting will help you appreciate the subtleties in flavor. Unlike wine, you won’t be leaving with a hangover.
Also unlike wine, you can present the chocolate in many formats – from chocolate bars, to chocolate cake, hot chocolate drinks or as milkshakes.
Here’s how you can get started.
First and foremost, this is a tasting party, not a munching one. So make sure the tasters you invite are genuinely interested in trying new tastes.
Don’t invite people who will eat everything in sight (although they can after the party is over). And to keep your tasting intimate as well as help your budget, I’d invite 8-10 people maximum.
Chocolate event menu tips
The world of chocolate is so rich and vast, it’s worth researching what’s out there.
Here are a few types of chocolate to try:
- Dark chocolate – The higher the cocoa, 70%+, the more bitter it is
- Unsweetened chocolate – Also called cooking chocolate, this is mainly used in cakes, brownies and cookies. Has a very deep flavor
- Milk chocolate – Taste will vary with this one, based on how low the amount of cocoa is. In the UK, milk chocolate contains only 20% cocoa
- White chocolate – Not technically chocolate, as it contains no cocoa solids
- Compare chocolate – By brand (Lindt vs Cadbury); country; Fairtrade vs mass-produced; American vs British
- Drinking chocolate – Choose what isn’t already in choc-bar form
- Instead of milk, use slightly hot water. Use small cups, for sips
- Handmake your own chocolate – Melt your chocolate, then mix it with other ingredients – like chilli powder! Present these on their own unlabelled plate – and watch your tasters react
How to run your chocolate tasting event
Some of invitation ideas for your chocolate tasting could include: Chocolates in a Photo (Search online to find a photo of different types of chocolate you can glue on the back of your invite card). Chocolate Quotes is another idea; here are a few I love:
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz
“The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!” – Terry Moore
“After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers.” – Emily Luchetti
1) create a Rate the Taste Worksheet
This Rate the Taste sheet lets tasters share their thoughts about what they’re tasting, as they go from chocolate to chocolate.
You can adapt an Excel spreadhseet, with columns for flavor, aroma and texture along the top, and ‘chocolate 1’, ‘chocolate 2’, etc, down the left. Then print out copies, and provide pencils for all.
Create sheets with different orders of which chocolate, so people can start at different tables as well as mingle. Hand out your sheets when everyone’s arrived, explaining how it works. Refer to it in the post-tasting section of the party, where tasters can share their experiences.
2) present your chocolate like this
You can present your chocolate in multiple forms – from bars to cakes to drinks and shakes.
Each item should be presented on its own plate. You could group the chocolate bars together and keep the cakes separate, that’s really up to you.
When you’re using chocolate bars, give each bar its own plate(s) and break it into chunks. Make sure to remove all their wrapping, to avoid ruining your tasters’ experience.
Number each plate, “chocolate 1”, “chocolate 2”, etc. Display them using table cards that tasters can see. Save the very sweetest types of chocolate for the very last table. Keep all unopened bars far from the room.
Later, at the group share later, you can reveal what they’ve tasted.
What to do about drinking chocolate?
You can display this on its own table, with each powder in their individual bowls, labelled “Drinking chocolate 1” etc. Add a flask of hot water, mini cups and spoons for stirring.
3) decorate your tasting party space
Go for a soft color palate – in white, gold and caramel – to evoke a sensuality and warmth with your party. Cover your tables in a white tablecloth, each with a vase of cut flowers.
Display your tables with a pitcher of drinking water and empty glasses, as well as a basket of plain bread, crackers and other palate cleaners.
Post chocolate tasting
If anyone’s hungry, lay on some proper food – especially food that absorbs sugar, like oatmeal, avocados, fish, chicken, sushi. Drinks? Mint tea and water.
Chocolate tasting party favors
Break up the unopened bars, and present the chunks in little gift boxes, wrapped with ribbon.
Include a list of the types of chocolate you’ve used. The way, tasters can follow up on the brands they like.
Tasting image: BinaryApe