If you've received a gourmet chocolate gift basket and need a way to avoid the temptation, and the pounds, consider using it as a basis for a chocolate tasting club.
Chocolate tasting clubs are starting to spring up all over the country as a way for people to gather and sample their favorite treat. It's great for camaraderie and it is educational too – really.
Chocolate tasting clubs work like wine-tasting clubs; invite a few friends over (in general, about a dozen makes a good size), meet about once a month while rotating among the members' homes.
Each month choose a theme; it doesn't have to be anything elaborate. For example, your first meeting's could be "What I got in my gourmet chocolate gift basket."
Future sessions can compare:
Swiss chocolate to American chocolate
Gourmet chocolate to supermarket varieties
Homemade chocolate to purchased chocolate
Dark chocolate to milk chocolate
Another possible theme is to taste the differences when pairing chocolate with other foods, such as fruit or wine.
If there is a confectionary nearby, perhaps your chocolate tasting club could tour the premises and learn how bonbons and truffles are produced.
Perhaps the host of each session could prepare a brief explanation about the different types of chocolate to be sampled each month. Many chocolate companies have fascinating histories.
Provide a light snack, including cheese and crackers and a beverage to help clear the palate between chocolate tastings.
High quality chocolate can be appreciated by all five senses:
Sight: Excellent chocolate has shiny, smooth, unblemished appearance.
Hearing: High-quality chocolate emits a clean cracking sound when broken.
Smell: Different varieties of chocolate have different fragrances, ranging from fruity to tobacco-like. By rubbing a small piece between two fingers, you can release other scents. Breathe deeply and appreciate the difference.
Touch: High quality chocolate is firm, not waxy, greasy or grainy.
Taste: Put a tiny piece of chocolate in your mouth, as it melts notice the different flavors. These will change as the melting continues. Notice how long each of the flavors linger.
Most people don't realize that chocolate tastes different depending on its location in the mouth. Chocolate tastes sweet on the tip of the tongue, sour on the front sides, salty on the back sides and bitter at the back.
When comparing results, be aware that everyone's will be different. Some people's sense of taste is better than others. At first everyone will be new at the chocolate tasting concept. It may take time for some attendees to remember to not bolt down the chocolate but to take the time to savor it.
Hosting or attending a chocolate tasting club will teach you many different things about something seemingly ordinary. Those who do attend will not look at a chocolate bar the same way again.
Chocolate tasting parties are a fun way to spend an evening. Very few people dislike chocolate and would enjoy learning about the different varieties available. It's a great way to share the contents of your gourmet chocolate gift basket.
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