For many of us, craft chocolate makes a fantastic gift; whether it be a special Christmas box, a kids activity set, a classic pairing with wine, coffee or whisky, a book and bar gift or a gift gasting course that “keeps on giving” for 3, 6 or 12 months.
We’d also like to suggest another use of craft chocolate, inspired by one of our book and bar ‘DJs‘, Jenny Linford (see HERE for her set). Jenny is a true food ‘all rounder’, with a special penchant for cheese and chocolate. And she is host to a Food FM podcast called ‘A Slice of Cheese‘. In one episode, on cheese boards for Christmas with Edward Hunter (cheese geek) and Ellen Hunter (of Neal’s Yard Dairy), she quizzes her panellists on what makes a great cheese board.
For a long time we’ve advocated the idea of chocolate boards. Indeed we’ve even designed one, with it’s own ‘breaking bar’ to help you snap the chocolate (see the above picture).
And whilst we encourage you to listen to Jenny’s podcast and I don’t want to spoil the punch line, I’m going to share some of their recommendations:
- Be generous: Make sure you’ve got “big wedges” so everyone can taste.
- Beware too much choice: Don’t be afraid to curate and select three to five different items.
- Within these three to five cheeses, cover a range of flavours, colours and textures.
- Think about the order you try them (e.g. leave the strongest for last).
- Make sure you have the cheeses at the correct temperature before serving.
…and then apply, and adapt, these to creating craft chocolate tasting boards:
- As per Jenny, Ellen and Edward’s suggestion; curate a range of 3-5 craft chocolate bars.
- Try to cover a a broad range of chocolate types: A couple of darks, a classic or dark milk and a white (see below for some suggestions based off different geographies).
- Include within these bars at least one with a different texture (e.g. try a stoneground bar from Taza or Naive, a nibs bar from Menakao or Duffys or an inclusion bar from Pump Street, MIA).
- Don’t be afraid to suggest the ‘tasting order’: Don’t start with milk or white chocolate; try to start with the dark and higher cocoa percentage bars.
- (And here is where we may differ a bit from cheese), break up each bar one at a time (and use the ‘breaking bar’ here to hear the snap) and share the bars one at time. You can always come back for more later.
- If you are the host, maybe check out the product detail pages so you can unwrap the stories behind each maker, bean and bar.
- Don’t forget to try and pair with any wine you may have left over (especially dark chocolate with red wines (see HERE for more ideas).
We’ve already a few ‘ready made’ board and bar sets. But why not make up your own?
And remember, ending your meal with some craft chocolate really DOES aid digestion by activating your second stomach and digestive tract.
Raise, and break, the bar at your next dinner party!