Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Event Recap: Chocolate tasting party


It's no secret that I love chocolate. Wherever I travel, I like to visit local pastry shops and see what kinds of sweet offerings they have. In the past year or so, I've been buying chocolate bars during my trips. I tend to hoard things so the chocolate bars have been sitting in my pantry for a while. I had been telling my husband that I wanted to host a chocolate tasting party but never committed to a date.

I finally got my act together and hosted a chocolate tasting party for some of my girlfriends. I only invited 7 women so it was a smaller event. I asked each person to bring a bar of chocolate for us to taste. For food, I had a fun challenge coming up with a menu that would be suitable for a few ladies with some dietary restrictions (one is vegetarian while another is dairy-free).


The menu included:
  • Crudite with store-bought ranch dip
  • Pretzel crackers with store-bought hummus
  • Homemade baguettes with store-bought olive tapenade
  • Vegetable potstickers (found in the frozen section of the Asian grocery store)
  • Vegan stuffed mushrooms
  • Vegan spinach balls with honey mustard dipping sauce
  • Vegetarian spring rolls with sweet dipping sauce
  • Crockpot meatballs
  • Crockpot BBQ pulled pork
  • Ranch and dill oyster crackers
  • Cheese plate
We had a total of about 20 bars of chocolate to try and had a strategy in mind to taste them all. We put all the chocolates in order of cacao content, from the darkest (and most bittersweet) chocolates to the ones with the fewest cacao content. We sat around my dining table and had little appetizer plates for our chocolates. I also created chocolate tasting sheets so each person could take notes on the appearance, smell, sound, texture, taste and overall notes on each chocolate bar.

The darkest chocolates got consumed first, and the last one we tried was a white chocolate strawberry bar. As the evening went on, we all agreed that it was really amazing how the (dark) chocolates all tasted so different, even though the cacao content was similar. The difference was the origin of the cacao bean and the technique of turning it into a chocolate bar. Some tasted like berries while others tasted nutty. Those of us who are white chocolate fans all agreed that the final bar (the white chocolate strawberry one) tasted extremely sweet after we had all those dark chocolate bars. I gifted each person a little bag of mini chocolates to take home and sample.

Oh, and if you're wondering what my personal favorite chocolate bar was of the night, it was a a tossup between two bars - one was called Fragrants Desirs that is in the first photo in the post. It had a wonderful vanilla undertone along with a rich, smooth dark chocolate base. The other was a 73% chocolate Madagascan bar from XOCOLATL that had berry undertones. This was the overwhelming favorite bar of the night.


All in all, it was a fantastic evening with great friends, yummy food and divine chocolate. I'm hoping to make this an annual event and can't wait to buy more chocolate bars during my travels.

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