Because don’t you want to learn how to taste chocolate with confidence? And maybe with some neat flash cards?
Note: this is an archived post from January 2017 from Seattle Dessert Geek. I’m bringing it along because sheesh, have you seen this kit?
I love that chocolate tasting kits are becoming a Thing. Learning to taste bean to bar chocolate can feel so intimidating – after all, where do you even start? And why do you need to learn how to taste in the first place? (Answer to that part: it’s kind of like drinking wine. There’s so much nuance if you know how to find it.)
Enter, the chocolate tasting kit. Because while books are great, but a kit can make things feel so much more accessible. It breaks things down so you can work through what you’re experiencing, bite by bite, through all the senses. A safety blanket for chocolate.
Also, being blunt, this was an epic excuse for me to fangirl. Eagranie Yuh is a chocolate writer, judge, and such a great inspiration in chocolate. So when Eagranie emailed me asking if I wanted a free kit was just all you’ve even heard of me? This epic chocolate judge from Canada was sending me PR emails? Just, oh my gosh. I was geeking out for days.
Fangirling aside, Eagranie rocks and I was pretty excited to see what I could learn from her tasting style.
Onto what you care about: the kit. This box comes with:
- A tasting kit book
- Two notepads for writing all your tasting notes
- Flashcards with various words for flavors you’ll taste
- An envelope to store your favorite wrappers in
And: no chocolate. You’ll have to provide that on your own.
For some people the lack of included chocolate is a let down, since they’d like the guidance. I’m personally relieved mystery chocolate wasn’t left in there for who knows how long. And besides, there are several good tasting sets listed in the back of the book, including beer and wine pairings. I feel like anyone new to chocolate would get a huge confidence boost by reading it cover to cover, then going chocolate shopping.
Here’s what I’d suggest:
- 3-5 bars, with a maximum of 6 bars (you’ll get palate fatigue if you eat more in one sitting)
- Range of 30-100% cacao chocolate
- Good ‘beginner’ brands: Fruition, Pralus, Valrhona (or I would just grab Chocolopolis’s Baseline Kit. It’s $40, and it save you the trouble of searching for what might be a ‘good’ bar.)
So, my thoughts? At $18 on Amazon, this is a great kit for groups or to take on on your own. The Tasting Kit book is quick, thorough, and really lets you learn how a professional thinks about chocolate. If you’re more seasoned, it’s a nice refresher of everything you want to remember when you’re eating chocolate.
And I really appreciated the flash cards as a way to remind you of what you’re tasting. They’re clear, easy to read, and let me think through the chocolate as tastes hit me.
Though my actual favorite part? The notepad. I’ve had to use a lot of judging papers and notepads for chocolate tasting over the years, and this is honestly one of the best I’ve used. It walks you through how you experience chocolate, and the pacing (and spacing) is great for anyone, regardless of skill level. If nothing else, buy the kit to practice with the notepad. (After writing my first draft I may have begged for them to be sold separately. Fingers crossed?)
The only thing this kit needs is an update on the state of chocolate. Soy lecithin was listed as an ingredient for ‘mass market’ chocolate, and nowadays a lot of bean-to-bar brands, even celebrated brands, use it regularly. (Valerie at Chocolate Uplift has a great summary of the issues with soy lecithin here. I’m still noting it because soy lecithin is no longer a way to easily distinguish brand quality.)
Still, at under $20 this chocolate tasting kit is amazing introduction to chocolate, and I hope you check it out, because I know I’m using those notepads every chance I get.
Have you tried the chocolate tasting kit, or considering trying out the kit? Let me know in the comments below!
Eagranie Yuh provided the tasting kit to me. All opinions here are so very much my own.