Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough when you’re starting out.
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 a thing. Bean to bar chocolate is still so intimidating for so many – after all, where do you even start? 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: Theo, Fruition, Valrhona (or you can skim my post on beginner chocolate and pick some goodies out)
So, my thoughts? At $24.95 at Chocolopolis (or under $18 on Amazon direct from Eagranie), this is a great kit for groups, or a good date night for Valentine’s Day. Also, if you’re new to chocolate and feeling super intimidated, it’s something that can help you sound like a pro. The Tasting Kit book is 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. I could see bringing the book to judging panels as a refresher, since I could stuff it in my purse.
And I really appreciated the flash cards as a super thorough 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. Also: please sell the notepads separately, in a slightly larger size. It’s a great combination of all the important reminders of taste, smell, and sight for eating chocolate, and I want them with room for notes for work.
I did feel like it could use an update. Soy lecithin was listed as an ingredient for ‘mass market’ chocolate, and I know a lot of bean-to-bar brands, even celebrated brands, use it now in milk and inclusion bars. (Valerie at Chocolate Uplift has a great summary of the issues with soy lecithin here. I’m noting it because soy lecithin is no longer a way to easily distinguish brand quality.) And I personally wouldn’t use the chocolate wrapper envelope. If you like saving your wrappers you’ll love it? For me I just save chocolate wrapper photos to my phone. Or, being truly honest, I’d go right out and buy another bar.
Have you tried the 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.