The Chocolate Tasting Kit
Chocolate tasting? Yes, chocolate tasting. Just as wine is more than rotten grape juice, chocolate can be so much more than a mere sugar fix. Through chocolate, you can visit exotic spots like Madagascar, Venezuela, and Indonesia–all without leaving your dining table.
What’s included in The Chocolate Tasting Kit?
The Kit includes:
* A chocolate primer to help you understand where chocolate comes from, how to buy it, and how to taste it like a pro (it’s easier than you think).
* Two chocolate-tasting notepads that provide a step-by-step guide to the tasting process.
* Twelve chocolate-tasting flash cards to help you assign a word to what you’re tasting. Hang out on one side with general flavour families, or flip them over to pinpoint the exact flavour you’re experiencing.
* One keepsake envelope for especially memorable chocolates or beautiful wrappers. (Warning: you are very likely to need a bigger envelope as you taste more chocolate. But this is a first-world problem.)
What’s not included in The Chocolate Tasting Kit?
Ironically, chocolate! But hear me out: This means that the Kit is equally appropriate for milk chocolate lovers as dark, for lovers of sea salt and all things plain. A few rules of thumb: aim for three to five chocolates (yes, really) so you can get the lay of the land. It’s really hard to taste a single bar. Tasting two means you can compare them. Tasting three means you can start to identify differences (or similarities) in flavours or textures. More than five chocolates tends to be a bit overwhelming, but feel free to go nuts.
Where can I buy chocolate to taste?
The good news is that there has never been a better time to taste chocolate, because there are more options available than before. If you live in a city with a specialty chocolate shop, start there because they can gauge your palate, ask you good questions, and recommend things that are likely to appeal. (You may also get some samples in the process.) Many craft chocolate makers sell online, so that’s another option. Check my blog for interviews with some of the craft chocolate makers I think are doing a good job. Worst-case scenario, try high-end grocery stores; however, the advice you get can be spotty.
What’s the deal with the chocolate-tasting flash cards?
Over the course of teaching many people how to taste chocolate, I realized that it’s not tasting that’s the problem–it’s assigning a word that can be difficult. The idea of the flash cards is for people to scan the possible flavour families. I like a yes/no approach. Is this chocolate fruity? If no, then move on to the next card. If yes, then you can hang out there, or flip the card over and try to pinpoint the exact descriptor. This is especially fun with a group of friends, because most chocolates match up with several cards, and it can be a friendly debate as to who is more “right.”
I don’t have a very good palate. What if I taste the wrong things?
I don’t believe that there are right or wrong answers when it comes to tasting. I may taste nuts, you taste coffee. Fine. On some level, one of us is probably more “right” than the other, but who cares? It takes practice to be able to taste (anything, not just chocolate) and the more comfortable you are throwing words out there, the better you’ll become. Over time, you’ll become more confident and become a better taster. (You will also realize which flavour families give you the most difficulty. For me, it’s floral.)
The Chocolate Tasting Kit is out of print, but you can still nab an e-book from your local flavour of Amazon. Unfortunately, the tasting flash cards aren’t included with the e-book. I’m happy to send you a PDF with proof of purchase; contact me here.