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Monday, April 28, 2014

The Chocolate Tasting Kit: A Great Way to Unleash Your Inner Connoisseur

Eagranie Yuh is a Canadian writer with a keen interest in chocolate. But like most chocolate connoisseur's these days, she has a background that has nothing to do with the sweet stuff. Eagranie has a master's in organic chemistry, which somehow led her to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Ottawa, which in turn led her to chocolate.

Nowadays, Eagranie teaches private and public chocolate tasting classes, she writes about chocolate, and she is a Canadian partner and judge for the International Chocolate Awards. And she still somehow maintains a day job as a course architect and editor at ROUXBE online cooking school.

With all of that combined experience, Eagranie has just published her first book and guide called: The Chocolate Tasting Kit. It is described as the "...essential guide to buying, tasting and appreciating fine chocolate." I received one of these kits in the mail and have been testing it out.

At first, I thought about whether or not I would use a 'kit' to taste chocolate, and truthfully, I thought I could not possibly need it. After all, I have been doing this for a long time, right?  I have my own system and have moved on from saving wrappers to writing about chocolate myself. I even give local chocolate tasting classes, like Eagranie does. But when I opened the kit and tried it out with several fine origin chocolate bars, I quickly saw the benefit for anyone who is taking a keen interest in chocolate. And in fact, I saw the benefit for myself to refine my taste buds and cause me to think more critically about the chocolate that I am tasting.

The Chocolate Tasting Kit contains the following tools:
  • a book with background information on chocolate (i.e. where it comes from, how it is made, the difference between fine and mass market chocolate and what chocolate-makers and chocolatiers do with it), as well as guides to: buying chocolate, tasting it and holding a chocolate tasting party.
  • a chocolate-tasting note-pad to assist the chocolate taster in describing each chocolate bar that they taste.
  • 12 flash cards that help prompt the taster when describing the flavour of their chocolate
  • an envelop to keep chocolate wrappers.
I can say with certainty that every one of the tools in this kit would be valuable to anyone who is starting on a journey to becoming a chocolate connoisseur. For instance, a wanna-be 'chocofile' can start learning by reading the overview of chocolate and how to buy the good stuff.

Once the chosen chocolate is in hand, the notepad will prompt the taster to review all aspects of the chocolate they are tasting; from the smell to the colour to the taste and texture. The flash cards assist the taster in describing the flavours that they are experiencing.

Often times, I will have a general feel for the chocolate that I am tasting, but cannot always find the words to describe it.  I found that Eagranie's flash cards and notepad really did help me put my experiences into words.

Another valuable tool was the envelope to hold the wrapper. When I first started seeking out and tasting fine chocolate 10 years ago, I always had piles of wrappers lying around. I would inevitably put them in a Ziplock bag or some other envelope, but they could still be found all around my house in messy piles.  The envelope and the kit box provided by Eagranie offer a great way to store my wrappers.

The Chocolate Tasting Kit is available at several retailers, including Chapters-Indigo at a great online price and some independent retailers. Eagranie is participating in a series of chocolate tasting events to launch the tasting kit. You can find the list on her website here.

2 comments:

  1. Years ago in a catalog my daughter saw a taste testing tool for chocolate filled candies
    Does anyone know where I can find one?

    ReplyDelete