Picking the perfect chocolates for a party

So, you’re hosting a party. The venue is confirmed. The guest list was finalised weeks ago. The buffet will be beautiful, and the alcohol selection was carefully made. The chocolates? Oh, they were picked up from a local supermarket —– and dont forget the birthday cake Coleraine.

This, however, is where times are changing. It is no longer enough to have token chocolates at a party. Chocolate is a thing. People know about chocolate. The sales of chocolate with a high cocoa content have steadily increased since 2013. How then do you know which chocolates to provide at your party?

Let’s start with the basics. Do not buy your party chocolates from a supermarket. Buy them from your local chocolate supplier. If you have to resort to the supermarket, purchase from the niche section. Talk to your local chocolate connoisseur. They are in the chocolate trade for a reason. They love chocolate. Therefore, they know which chocolates are just okay and which chocolates are exceptional. Take their advice. Take note of where the beans originate. While cocoa content is important, the key to taste is the beans. Look for beans originating in Ecuador or Venezuela, as the beans here tend to have a more exquisite taste than those from places such as West Africa where beans are mass produced for processed chocolates.

Now you’ve picked your beans, continue with the high-quality theme. It will be worth it. There’s an ever increasing trend in Britain for organic and ‘whole’ food consumption. Know where your chocolate originates from, that it is fairly traded and that ideally it is made ‘bean to bar’ (put simply, the chocolate has the same maker through the whole manufacturing process).

Even if you did no more than following the above, your guests would be impressed. They will taste the quality. There is, however, more that you can do. What about the look, the texture and the flavour? Offer a variety. Chocolate is an indulgence and parties are a time of celebration and if you can’t indulge at a celebration then when can you? The key is not to go overboard with quantity. Chocolate is intense. Offer a small amount of each high-quality chocolate, not masses of cheap confectionary. The chocolate on offer should be shiny, with a glossy and smooth exterior (dusted truffles are the exception here) and the initial bite should involve a satisfying ‘crunch’ sound. As for the flavour, this is an individual preference, but there are some key points to follow. Unless it is a party for children, steer clear of the sickly sweet (and even then, keep it to a minimum. As mentioned previously, chocolate is an indulgence, and too much of the sickly sweetness will just lead to, well, sickness. Scientifically (yes, chocolate flavouring is a science), certain flavours match with certain types of chocolate. Your local chocolate supplier can assist you with this, but as a guide, you should mix white chocolates with citrus flavours, milk chocolates with caramels and teas and dark chocolates with bold flavours such as cinnamon, chilli and dark roast coffee. Above all, stay sophisticated. Your guests will thank you for it.

Follow the above, and your party chocolates will be promoted from token sidepiece to party showstopper. Indeed, consider making your next party a chocolate tasting event. Oh, the possibilities!