What better way to celebrate the final day of Chocolate Week than to have a chocolate tasting. Dina Cheney, author of "The Tasting Club" joined me, Monty, and Shavon in studio to walk us through a sampling of three artisan chocolates, all made in the United States. Amano, made in Utah from Venezuelan cocoa beans, Askinosie from Springfield, MO with beans sourced from the Phillipines, and Scharffenberger, from California. Both the Amano and the Askinosie are single origin chocolates, meaning their beans come from one source, while the Scharffen berger we tried was a cuvee; a blend of beans.
Ok, so now you're thinking, we just popped some chocolates into our mouths, bit down and that was that. Well, not so fast. Chocolate, like wine, deserves some mulling over (pun intended). Dina, who is as charming as her book, instructed us to first look at the chocolate for color and sheen and then to break a piece to hear its snap -- a sign that it was well made.
Next, we were told to rub the chocolate between our fingers, close our eyes, and hold it up to our noses to catch its distinctive aroma. Now the best part -- tasting! First we allowed the chocolate to melt a little in our mouths while moving it about so it would coat the entire tongue and finally a bite. All of this done with closed eyes so we could really concentrate on what we were tasting -- was it sweet, acidic, well-rounded, chalky and most of all, did we like it? While our eyes were closed, this wasn't a blind tasting; we knew exactly which chocolate we were tasting. Dina's philosophy: it's all about learning something and enjoying yourself. I couldn't agree more.
This would be a fun party to have -- gather a few friends and do a tasting. The book walks you through how to do it and even comes with a tasting sheet to copy and share with your guests. While we enjoyed all three treats, our hands down favorite was the Amano, 70% cacao, smooth, creamy, and not too sweet.
My suggestion: have a chocolate tasting party. Invite some friends and let the fun and education, begin.