Chocolate Tasting Party: How to Host a chocolate sampling
guest post by Ashley Schuering
At Chuao Chocolatier, we believe that every chocolate experience should be a celebration. That's why we've created the ultimate guide to hosting a chocolate party that's as rich, diverse, and delightful as Chuao's incredible chocolate selection. If you've been wondering How To Host A Chocolate Tasting event, we've got you covered!
Get ready to dive into our treasure trove of chocolate party ideas. From exploring the nuances of drink pairings to perfecting your chocolate selections, and leading your guests on a sensory journey to savor each chocolate to its fullest to how to set the scene, we've got all the tips and tricks you need to host a chocolate-tasting party that'll be the talk of the town!
What type of chocolate is good for a tasting?
We think Chef Michael says it best: when it comes to chocolate, there are no rules! Here are some ideas to consider:
A Flight of Chocolate: Offer a range of chocolate types such as white, milk, and dark chocolate. This allows guests to experience the full spectrum of chocolate flavors. You can start with the sweet, creamy notes of white chocolate, transition to the balanced richness of milk chocolate, and culminate with the intense, deep flavors of dark chocolate.
Stick to a Theme: For instance, an exclusively dark chocolate tasting allows guests to immerse themselves in the rich, diverse world of Chuao's dark chocolate bars. Alternatively, choosing a flavor like mint as your theme offers a refreshing twist. You could showcase a range of mint-infused chocolates, like our For The Love Of Peppermint and Snuggle Up S'mores bars. This approach not only makes the tasting more cohesive but also allows guests to appreciate the nuances within a specific category or flavor of chocolate.
Truffle and Bonbon Tasting: This option allows guests to explore the world of gourmet chocolates. Chuao's gourmet truffles and bonbons often come in a myriad of flavors and textures, from crunchily nutty to carbonated (no, really!), and from sweet and fruity to delightfully salty. Have fun running the full gamut of tastes!
Let Chuao Be Your Guide: You can also create a tasting around one of our premium chocolate gift sets to take the guesswork out of it! Each has been curated with a delightful selection of flavors that we think go fabulously together. Consider each your own personal chocolate-tasting kit.
Vegan and Allergy-Friendly Options: Don’t forget to include some vegan or allergy-friendly chocolates, ensuring everyone can enjoy the tasting regardless of dietary restrictions.
What drinks should I pair with chocolate?
When pairing drinks with chocolate, aim to either have the drink balance and contrast with your chocolate or augment the chocolate's most prominent flavors. Wine and chocolate tastings are most common, but they’re not your only option.
Here's a guide to creating delightful pairings that complement and enhance the flavors of your chosen chocolates:
- Milk Chocolate with White Wine: The creamy, sweet profile of milk chocolate pairs beautifully with buttery or sweet white wines. Look for a Chardonnay with a buttery character or a sweet Riesling to complement the smoothness of the milk chocolate.
- Dark Chocolate with Red Wine: The tannins in red wine are akin to the cacao solids in dark chocolate, offering a pleasing counterbalance. Fruit-forward red wines like Merlot or Zinfandel, known for their rich berry notes, are some of our favorites.
- Dessert Wines: These wines are versatile and can pair well with any type of chocolate. After all, they're designed to be enjoyed with dessert!
- Craft Beers and Hard Ciders: For a more unconventional pairing, try craft beers or hard ciders. We particularly love pairing stout beers with dark chocolate.
- Champagne with a Twist: If you’re inclined towards bubbly, avoid super dry options like brut. Instead, create a Kir Royale by adding Chambord or crème de cassis to your champagne to add a fruity sweetness that pairs better with chocolate.
- Coffee or Tea: If you're not drinking alcohol, that doesn't mean you're out of luck! Black tea pairs well with milk chocolate, offering a balance of sweet and malty flavors. Green tea, with its slight bitterness and grassy notes, can be a refreshing counterpoint to white chocolate. The natural bitterness of coffee pairs wonderfully with both milk and dark chocolates.
Prepare the party
Hosting a chocolate tasting party is as much about the chocolates as it is about creating a memorable shared experience. Here's how you can set the stage for an unforgettable chocolate tasting:
- Ambiance: The right atmosphere is key to any gathering. Choose a comfortable and inviting space with soft lighting to create a cozy environment. Consider playing some gentle background music to set a relaxed mood. Decorations can be subtle yet thematic – think chocolate brown accents or small cocoa-themed centerpieces.
- Food: Since chocolate is the star, keep other foods light and complementary. Offer a selection of breads, crackers, and perhaps some fruit. These items won't overpower the chocolate and will provide a neutral base between tastings.
- Print Out Tasting Notes: Provide your guests with tasting notes for each type of chocolate you'll be sampling. This can include information about the origin of the cocoa, the percentage of cocoa, flavor notes, and suggested drink pairings. It’s also a good idea to leave out pens for your guests to make their own notes!
- Arrange Light to Dark: Start with the mildest (like white or lower percentage milk chocolates) and progress to the strongest (high-percentage dark chocolates). This progression allows the palate to adjust and appreciate the increasing intensity of flavors.
- Have Palate Cleansers: Offer palate cleansers such as still water, unsalted crackers, or slices of green apple. These help to neutralize the tastebuds between different chocolates, ensuring that each variety can be fully appreciated for its unique flavor profile.
Guide your guests
Encourage your guests to engage all their senses to fully appreciate each chocolate's unique characteristics. Here's a quick guide on how to do this:
- How Does It Look? Ask guests to observe the chocolate's color and glossiness. Is it uniformly smooth or does it have any texture?
- How Does It Feel? Have them feel the chocolate's texture. Is it smooth, rough, creamy, or brittle?
- How Does It Smell? Instruct them to smell the chocolate before tasting. Do they detect fruity, nutty, floral, or earthy notes?
- How Does It Sound? Listen for the 'snap' when breaking the chocolate. A crisp snap often indicates good tempering and quality.
- How Does It Taste? When tasting, let the chocolate melt in the mouth and explore the flavors. Are they bitter, sweet, acidic, or rich?
- Any Other Sensual Experiences? Encourage guests to notice if the chocolate leaves any aftertaste or causes any mouthfeel sensations like creaminess or dryness.
- How Does It Work with the Drink Pairing? Discuss how the drink pairing complements or contrasts with the chocolate. Does it enhance certain flavors or provide a refreshing balance?
- Throw in Some Fun Facts: Share interesting tidbits about chocolate – like how it was once used as currency or its health benefits – to make the tasting both educational and entertaining.
How to host a virtual chocolate tasting
- Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts
- Consider doing a tasting with Chuao’s own Chef Michael!