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Time to taste the truffles! Photo courtesy Chocolat Céleste.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

February 2005
Last Updated November 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Chocolate

Have A Chocolate Party

Page 3: Pre-Chocolate Party Preparation

 

This is Page 3 of a five-page article on planning a chocolate party. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

 

 

Step 4: Pre-Party Preparation

  • Create a sheet for notes. Set up a table on an 8-1/2” x 11” page horizontally with 1/2” margins. You will need 4 columns and as many rows as the chocolates and wines you are tasting, plus a “header” row. The headers of the columns from left to right are: Products, Appearance/Aroma, Taste, Comments. In the first column, make a row for each of the products to be tasted, and number each row, so you can refer back to “chocolate number 3.” Allow enough width in each row for people to write notes.  Show the wines and chocolates by flight (this will also enable you to know what to serve, and when). If you are tasting a dozen of chocolates and/or pairings, your table may continue to more sheets.
  • Prepare a tasting template. At professional tastings, templates are pre-printed on paper place mats instructing tasters and servers where to place item number one, item number two, etc. If you have access to a printer that uses 11" x 17" paper and are handy with a design program, you can create one.  Otherwise, you’ll have to devise your own system to keep track of the chocolates and wines. One way is to line up two rows of glasses with the chocolate in front of each. If you’re tasting chocolate only, you can put them on a plate starting clockwise at 12, which enables everyone to be in sync when you say, “Let’s move on to chocolate number 3;” and to refer back to their notes sheet.
  • It’s also helpful to prepare a sources sheet so everyone can have a record of the chocolates and wines they are tasting. Include the places where the products can be purchased, and the prices. Distribute this after everything has been tasted, since prices can color perception of the products. (So can names, which is why we prefer blind tastings, knowing products only as “chocolate number three” and “Port number 1” until after the tasting.
  • Select palate cleansers. In addition to water, to cleanse the palate between comparisons you should have a supply of water biscuits like Carr’s or other bland, salt-free crackers. Unsalted matzoh is essentially the same product as water biscuits; most grocery stores carry unsalted Saltines. Baguette and plain white bread work, but are more filling. Strange as it may sound, a tart green apple like Granny Smith works. Cut it in very thin slices so people don’t fill up. After consuming the palate cleanser, complete the process by drinking some water or seltzer (not club soda—it has salt).
  • Provide A Nose Cleanser. A snifter or container of unground coffee beans is helpful to clear aromas from the nose (90% of taste is smell). You can prepare one or two to pass around the table, or give everyone his own snifter. You may want to put plastic wrap over the top of the snifter so the coffee aromas don’t interfere with the chocolate.

 

 

Continue To Page 4: The Day Of The Chocolate Party

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