Host the sweetest party ever!
Want to be the hottest host or hostess around? Throw a chocolate-tasting party.
All you need are a few bags of chocolate chips, some chocolate bars, seltzer or water (to keep your taste buds fresh), and an imagination. Have your guests each bring one type of chocolate. This shouldn’t cost anyone more than two dollars.
Tell each person what type and brand of chocolate you’d like them to bring. At the party, put small pieces of chocolate on plates (chocolate chips are the perfect size), but hide the brand name. Group them according to countries and types. Put all the white chocolate in one group, for example, and make markers telling what country each kind is from. You’ll be surprised how much your taste buds will tell you.
There are four types of chocolate: dark (or bittersweet), semisweet, milk, and white. Each type of chocolate tastes different, and each brand has its own unique quality. For example, Hershey’s milk chocolate doesn’t taste like Nestlé milk chocolate. Chocolate made in countries other than your own have unique textures and flavors, too. So make sure you get a few imported bars, like Tobler, Droste, and Guittard, to name a few.
Chocolate, like fine wine, comes in many strengths and qualities. The ingredients that affect chocolate most are the type of fat used and the amount of cocoa mass, usually labeled chocolate liquor on the package. It’s not alcoholic, or even fermented. It’s a dark brown, sticky mass that gives chocolate its flavor.
Some chocolate chips are chocolate flavored, not real chocolate. They have cocoa as the chocolate ingredient, with no chocolate liquor or cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a natural fat that makes chocolate rich and creamy. In high quality chocolates, the only fat used is cocoa butter, and the amount of chocolate liquor will be listed as a percentage, like 6 percent (so-so) or 40 percent (delectable).
The key to a successful chocolate tasting party is variety. Get as many brands and types of chocolate as possible. Don’t leave out chocolate flavored chips—it’s fun to see how much the flavor differs.
Tell your friends to let each piece melt on their tongues so their mouths are filled with the flavor. This is the way chocolate experts do it. Everyone should rise their mouths with water or seltzer after each taste, so that the next chocolate they try stands out.
When you’re done, serve chips and salsa, and hot chocolate (of course!), and talk about what you learned. You may even start talking like chocolate connoisseurs, comparing textures, denseness, or richness of each type of chocolate.
Whatever the result, your chocolate-tasting party will be a blast!