how to host a dark chocolate tasting + printable tasting notebooks

spring screams for simple gatherings. the weathers warmer, we don't want to hide under a blanket from the storms, meals and snacks seem to get simpler and lighter (aka easier), and i always feel like friends just want to be together more now than the rest of the year. this also means coming up with different reasons, occasions, or meals to gather around. of course you've all heard of, attended or even hosted a chocolate tasting. most likely with wine (what i've always done!). so when ghirardelli asked me to share what i would pair their intense dark chocolate with, i was in without even thinking. dark chocolate is my absolute fave, and i wanted to come up with some out of the box pairings to go with it! here's what i picked and how to host a super simple tasting of your own.

there are really no rules when it comes to pairing things with chocolate. you can go sweet, savory, or do a mix. my first instinct is to always go sweet, so i threw myself a curve ball and came up with some savory choices. i picked up some salt & pepper kettle chips, a gouda/parm blend cheese, pistachios and bacon. of course you'll need your chocolate, i used the 72% intense dark chocolate. and don't forget to have something for you and your guests to jot down notes! i made these notebooks into printables so all you have to do is print a copy and follow my diy instructions here. more info on how to download the file at the end of the post.

i know it can be kind of intimidating to come up with unique pairings.. especially if you have guests. you want them to actually enjoy it and find it tasty right?! ghirardelli has tons of suggestions here plus even more advice on planning your own party on their site (they'll make you look like an expert at your own party!). Plus they have 7 additional flavors if you want even more of a variety… probably going to host a plain old chocolate tasting with all 8. how fun would it be to do a blind tasting?! those notebooks will definitely come in handy for remember the flavors of 8 different dark chocolates.

grab a platter and some glass containers to hold small samplings of each of your pairings. remember it's a tasting so you don't have to go overboard with these! water is also a must along with some bread and fruit to cleanse the palate in between the different flavors.

i went with my favorite thing second to fresh flowers to decorate the table, potted plants and succulents.  i am in love with the pop of green next to a full table of clean white pieces. quirky candlesticks, available here, add a touch of fun to the table as well.

encourage your guests to take notes of what they thought on the mix of the dark chocolate with your pairing choices. you never know what new recipe or pairing ideas it might spur! and if you host different tastings you can all keep your notebooks and look back at what you tasted in the past, or even how your opinions have changed over time.

i whipped up a printable cover for you so you can make your own notebooks and host your own tasting! head over to ghirardelli's site and come back here to tell me what flavor (or flavor's!) you would use at your own tasting! once you comment, the link to the calligraphy tasting notebook printables will be emailed to you within 24 hours… so remember to leave contact info too!

ghirardelli (and i) really want to see what you decide to pair your chocolate with, so if you host a party, tag it with #IntenseDark or upload it straight to ghirardelli's intense dark website.

so… what flavors are you going to host your tasting with?!

[thank you to ghirardelli intense dark chocolate for sponsoring this post and allowing me to share my pairing. with sponsors support i can continue to create fun posts for you guys to enjoy!]