HOSTING A CHOCOLATE TASTING PARTY
Recently, I hosted a chocolate tasting party for a few of my friends. It was a fun kid/husband free activity. I thought I would share some of the things that I learned so that you can host your own party. And who wouldn't want to know a little bit more about chocolate?! Before we get to how to taste chocolate, I will share some tips on how to host the party.
The guest list:
Make sure that you have a count of who is coming so that you can prepare all of the chocolate sample plates. I had 13 people, and I think you wouldn't want many more than that. I think that anywhere between 3 and 10 people would be ideal, as long as you have room to fit everyone at the same table.
The time of day:
A chocolate tasting party is best about an hour after a main meal so that people aren't hungry and aren't too full. I did mine at 7pm.
I set the table with each place setting including a little appetizer plate, a chocolate tasting plate (ready with the chocolate samples), a napkin, appetizer fork, glass of water with a straw. All of the appetizers and pallet cleansers were placed in the middle of the table. I also used some leftover chocolate to decorate by stacking them on cake stands.
Serve light appetizers that are salty. I served proscuito wrapped pear slices, gorgonzola and gouda cheese, and crackers.
The pallet cleansers:
In between chocolate samples, have several pallet cleansers available. All of these should be at room temperature so as to not change the temperature in your mouth that could effect how well the chocolate melts in your mouth. These can be room temperature water, acidic fruit (I served pineapple, green apples and tangerine slices), saltine crackers without salt, bread pieces and spicy nuts. You want to make sure that the pallet cleansers are in small bites so that people won't fill up in between samples.
Select a variety of fine chocolates. I chose 6 different kinds, you probably don't want to have many more than that. I chose three milk chocolate and three dark chocolate. Always taste the ones with the least amount of cacao content first. So we started with milk and gradually worked our way to our darkest chocolate. I also made sure to pick some imported and domestic chocolates as well as two organic. When you plate the chocolate, make sure you give your guests a large enough piece so they can snap it in half. I used a square of each type of chocolate.
When everyone is settled and eating appetizers, you can explain how the tasting will proceed. You can give them a chocolate tasting guide that I will explain in a later post. Because we all know the tasting is the best part! Before the tasting began, I shared a little history about how chocolate is made and processed. And what makes dark chocolate-dark chocolate, etc (the amount of cacao). Also, about some of the fermentation processes and how that determines the majority of the taste of the chocolate. Different companies dry the cocoa beans in different ways and process them at different ripeness, those things contribute to the flavor. (It's all very interesting to a chocolate lover like myself!)