Chocolate Tasting Party + Tutorial
So this past weekend my in-laws flew in for a visit. It triggered a mini anxiety attack as I tried to figure out what to make for the two dinners they would be here for. After asking what they liked, my okaasan just said: "make your specialty"...which of course sent me into another panic mode as I realized my specialty is...nope, no I don't have a specialty. I knew I'd be too embarrassed to make Japanese for my Japanese mother-in-law, so I decided to cater to my father-in-law's preferences, which fortunately are about the same as my hubby's: meat. We did pasta with a favorite meat sauce that he enjoyed very much, and on the last night did some grilling and this chocolate tasting party!
With a spread like this, I don't think anyone could complain. There is something for everyone, and everyone loves chocolate right?? For the party, all you need is a quick Walmart run for an array of tasting chocolates as well as chocolate pairings, and of course people who love to discuss chocolate. My inspiration was the new Flavor Vote M&M's® flavors: M&M's® Chili Nut, M&M's® Honey Nut and M&M's® Coffee Nut. I encased all three flavors in chocolate squares and also served them as is, in bowls, and they were perfect as our tasting chocolates. But as an ongoing activity, I also hid a couple of surprise M&M's® Peanut Butter in the chocolates, and whoever bit into one of those would win a prize. The fun part is that M&M's® put all these flavors out as a nation-wide vote. Everyday until June 17th you can buy and vote for which flavor is your favorite, and the winning flavor stays on the shelves. On top of that, in August when the winning flavor is announced, they also choose one voter to become the official M&M's® Taste Tester and receive $100,000. So at the end of your party, make sure you vote HERE! One of your party people could walk away with a ginormous prize.
Full tutorial for the party below, as well as a tutorial on the chocolates. Use the hashtag #MMSFlavorVote when rallying to your favorite flavor on social media, and remember you can go back and vote once per day on the M&M's® Facebook page! So have you tried the flavors? Which one is your favorite?
You can also buy each flavor online at Walmart:
M&M's® Chili Nut
M&M's® Honey Nut
M&M's® Coffee Nut
What You Need:
1. Chocolate! The three new flavors of M&M's® Peanut are fun to taste-test and make a great discussion point on what everyone's favorites are and why. Set out the M&M's® as is, in bowls, and encase them in chocolates to create a fun activity. Recipe below.
2. An activity. When I made my chocolates, I decorated them with colors that matched the M&M's® they encase so that you can distinguish between them. But I also hid a few M&M's® Peanut Butter in them. The peanut butter ones are soft, so you'd know immediately if you bit into it. So it's an ongoing activity where whoever bites into a peanut butter one gets a prize! The prizes I chose were novelty food items like dried cantaloupe, etc.
3. Chocolate Pairings. Set out snacks and beverages that pair well with your chocolates and enhance their flavors:
- Meats: pepperoni, salame, proscuitto
- Fruits: strawberries, grapes, figs if they're in season
- Breads: a baguette, water biscuits, crackers, sesame sticks
- Cheese: we had smoked gouda, red hawk, and brie
- Sparkling grape juice
- Balsamic vinegar and flavored olive oil for dipping
4. A Vote! Make sure everyone votes on what their favorite flavor M&M's® was, then go online and cast your ballot! Someone from your party could end up with a $100,000 prize.
Peanut Chocolates Recipe
- M&M's® Chili Nut, M&M's® Honey Nut, M&M's® Coffee Nut
- good chocolate, such as DOVE®
- chocolate mold
- offset spatula, or anything with a straight edge
- gold, red and bronze edible powder for decorating (opt.)
- clean paint brushes (opt.)
- clear vanilla extract (opt.)
- foil candy cups
- parchment paper or silicon mat
Pour chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds until the chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth. If needed, heat for 10 seconds more at a time, until you can stir the chocolate smooth.
Fill a mold almost full with melted chocolate, then push an M&M's® into it. Cover the rest of the way until it's overflowing. Continue until all of your molds are full.
Place your mold and bowl of melted chocolate on top of your parchment paper to catch any spillage. Now use your offset spatula to scrape the excess chocolate off of your mold and into your bowl. Continue scraping until the surface of the chocolates are flat. Set in the fridge until hardened, then pop them out. Continue the process until you've made as many chocolates as you need. Scrape any spillage back into your bowl, and re-melt the chocolate as needed.
Start by tapping about 1/4 tsp of each colored powder into 3 separate small bowls. Add a drop or two of clear vanilla to each until it forms a paste. Use a clean paint brush to make a strip across each chocolate and let dry. I did gold for honey, red for chili, bronze for coffee. Dip another clean brush straight into your gold powder, and tap the brush while hovering over each chocolate so that you get a splatter of gold dust accent. Place each chocolate into a foil candy cup and voila!