Master Chocolatier Tips for a Chocolate Tasting by oprah.com contributor Jonathan Grahm
There's no better way to enjoy chocolate than by hosting a chocolate tasting for you and some of your favorite friends. Here are my four tips for choosing chocolates for a tasting party.
1. Taste All Kinds and Colors of Chocolate
When tasting different types of chocolate such as dark, milk and white, I suggest breaking them up into sections since the dark chocolate is going to be the strongest in flavor profile, while the white would be the weakest.
Regional single-origin chocolates from places in Africa such as Ghana, Madagascar, Tanzania, Nigeria and the Congo region are also very popular. While chocolates from regions in Asia such as Papua New Guinea may be harder to find, they are available as well. You can pick up these "single-origin" chocolates in good health food stores, a local Whole Foods market or online for a fun way to compare the flavors based on where the chocolate is grown and cultivated.
Did you know that 100 percent cacao, with no sugar at all, has a taste that is more bitter than coffee and some may compare it to burnt coal? My favorite chocolates are always around the 75 to 78 percent cacao range. With this kind of tasting, you can also pair several wines to match the strength of the cacao in the chocolate.
There is a broad range of chocolates that can be used in tastings based on flavor. Examples of interesting choices would be chocolates flavored with pepper (like a Mexican hot chocolate truffle or raspberry pink pepper), salt (such as our smoked salt or fleur de sel caramels), exotic fruits (such as kaffir lime or umeboshi plum), teas (like jasmine tea or earl grey) or a multitude of different flavor variations. Truffles or ganaches are my favorite to try for a flavor-based chocolate tasting, but chocolate bars (with exotic ingredients) are also a great way to go.
Overall, have fun and choose interesting combinations and varieties that have distinct flavor profiles that stand out and you are guaranteed a great afternoon or evening with friends and a whole lot of chocolate. Enjoy and happy eating!