A chocolate tasting party is a great way to get your friends together for an afternoon of culinary adventure, fun conversation and pure decadence. It is also surprisingly easy to host! From creative invitation ideas, to a crash course in chocolate varieties, here's everything you need to know to make your chocolate tasting party a sweet success.
Set the tone for a delicious time by creating personalized candy bars to use as invitations. Buy your favorite chocolate, remove the outer wrapper and replace it with one you create on your own that conveys all the details of the party. You can also buy a mini box of chocolates from a local chocolatier and create a personalized wrapper for the box. Either way, your guests will appreciate the treat and be eager to taste more.
Within the chocolate theme are a lot of potential variations. You could offer exclusively organic chocolates, sample chocolates from various regions or focus your palate on the most exotic flavors of chocolates. For your first chocolate tasting party, why not offer a little bit of everything? You’ll have your guest agreeing with Forest Gump that life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re going to get.
Regions that create amazing chocolates in South America include Ecuador, Columbia, Costa Rica and Venezuela. African nations with terrific chocolate include Nigeria, Ghana, Madagascar and Tanzania. These imports can be found at health food grocery store chains such as Whole Foods, or online from gourmet specialty shops. Gourmet specialty shops and online chocolatiers can also be a great source for unusual chocolate flavor combinations, such as chocolate and hot pepper, chocolate with lavender infusions, exotic tropical fruits, or teas.
When choosing your chocolates, consider the cacao content. Dark chocolate has gained tremendous popularity in recent years, not only because it's delicious, but also because of its wonderful antioxidant properties. For health benefits, the darker the chocolate the better, but there is such thing as too dark. Chocolate that is 100 percent cacao is said to be as bitter coffee grounds, and the taste has been likened to burnt coal. A cacao percentage of 75 to 80 is sufficiently dark. Also offer your guests milder chocolates such as milk chocolate, or even white chocolate, which really isn’t chocolate at all, but can still be invited to your party. It has a luxurious, creamy quality that many guests will love.
Drinks that go especially well with chocolate are coffee, champagne and red wine. You may also extend your chocolate theme to the drinks themselves and offer chocolate martinis or chocolate liqueurs. Make sure you also have plenty of water on hand to use as a palate cleanser. Offer some heartier fare as well, with protein-rich appetizers such as a meat and cheese platter to counteract a potential sugar crash. This is one sweet party your guests will never want to end!