Biting into a piece of chocolate is a simple act that we have all done at some point. Whether it’s after a busy day at work, or a sweet addition to our lunch or even a snack before bedtime, this small comforting gesture is part of our daily routine.
Today, we’re offering you a great experience to be shared with friends! Indeed, let’s make way for a chocolate tasting session! But, how are you supposed to enjoy your favourite square? You’ll probably reply, “The way I want to”! Of course you will! But, certain techniques seem to truly maximize the tasting pleasure.
Here are our tips for a successful chocolate tasting.
List of materials required
- 4 to 5 flavours of Camino chocolate bars (according to your taste!)
- One plate or bowl per flavour
- Several napkins
- One pen per participant and our downloadable Chocolate tasting form
Preparation before tasting
1. Break up the Camino chocolate bars. Without removing the silver compostable wrapping, and using your hands, start by breaking the rows and then each square individually by feeling the grooves of the chocolate bar with your fingertips. You should end up with 24 squares per bar. Place these on your plate or in your bowl.
2. Hand each participant a napkin.
3. Before beginning the tasting, remind your friends of one essential rule: there are no right or wrong answers. Everyone has their own preference in terms of taste, and even your own memories of food will have an impact on what you’ll taste. Tasting and appreciating chocolate, and food in general, is a multi-sensory experience!
So, are you ready?
A tasting in four steps
- Admire your chocolate. Look closely; the chocolate should have a shiny appearance, a sign that it has properly been tempered.
- Listen to your chocolate. Yes, bring the piece of chocolate close to your ear and break it in half. A well-made chocolate should make a snapping sound when you break it.
- Smell your chocolate. Nothing could be simpler; bring the chocolate close to your nose and breathe in slowly while thinking of its aromas. Fruity? Nutty? Woody? Make way for your sense of smell!
- Taste your chocolate! This is the most enjoyable part of course, the one you’ve all been waiting for. Place a small piece of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt for a few moments between your tongue and your palate. Then slowly chew it before letting it move in your mouth. Pause for a moment! Focus… What does this remind you of? Does the taste change as the chocolate melts? What do you think of the texture? Take your time and ask yourself any questions you can think of.
- Start over. Switch to another bar and start again.
In which order should you choose the bars for your tasting?
Although the choice of chocolates remains a personal one, Camino recommends starting with the one with the lowest percentage of cacao, and gradually moving on to stronger chocolates, both in terms of cacao content and flavour, leaving the stronger flavours for last (mint, chilli, etc.). For example, you can start with a Milk or Semi-sweet chocolate (55%), then a Bittersweet chocolate (71%), followed by a Nightfall chocolate (92%), and finish with a Mint dark chocolate (67%). Indeed, strong flavours tend to dominate the taste buds and stay there for a while.
Tips and details
Describing the taste of a chocolate bar is not an obvious thing to do. Camino recommends you focus on the four basic flavours to begin with: sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Does the chocolate seem sweet at first taste? Do you feel a bit of acidity followed by immediate salivation? Do you feel a certain balance of flavours in your piece of chocolate or does bitterness take over when tasting it? Also, don’t hesitate to linger on its texture. Is it particularly dry, granular or melting?
Aside from these four basic flavours that can be detected on the tongue, it’s the aromas that play a primary role in the perception of a chocolate bar’s flavours. And yes, we perceive the flavours with our nose! You can experience this with your friends by asking them to pinch their nose before serving them a square of dark chocolate with coffee or mint (without telling them the flavour of course!).
Ask them to place the chocolate square in their mouth without letting go of their nose, to chew it and to then try and identify the flavour. Not an obvious task.
Finally, ask them to stop pinching their nose and you’ll see their reaction! With an unblocked nose, it’s much easier to taste the flavours.
To conclude, you could use this tasting as an opportunity to share with your friends the reasons why you support fair trade and organic chocolate. Chocolate is often a good way to start very interesting and enriching conversations.