Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review: The Chocolate Tasting Kit by Eagranie Yuh

Eagranie Yuh's new chocolate book and kit, The Chocolate Tasting Kit, shows us that the world of chocolate is just as complex and fascinating as the worlds of wine, coffee, and tea. Ever wanted to know the difference between white and dark chocolates? Hungry to identify the top chocolate producers and regions worldwide? Yuh's 48-page book, just one of multiple components in The Chocolate Tasting Kit, offers all of the gooey details succinctly, and it's fun to read.



Is The Chocolate Tasting Kit just for chocolate geeks? Well, it does include around 100 "tasting notes," little cards for filling out price, chocolate origin, flavor notes, and more that only the most chocolate-obsessed might eventually use up. It also comes with a pouch for storing labels from your favorite chocolates as well as 12 tasting flashcards; for example, the "fruity" flashcard reads: Fruity is one of the biggest flavor families in chocolate—which makes sense, since chocolate comes from a  fruit. The most common flavors are red fruits, berries, and citrus. When it comes to citrus, see if you can distinguish between the fruit, which is more sour, and the zest, which is brighter.
Tasting Notes
But no. The Chocolate Tasting Kit is a practical resource for anyone who wants to learn about chocolate, and it opens up the world of chocolate in ways that few other resources have.

To get the most out of this kit, begin by reading the book. I learned so many fascinating facts, such as the difference between mass-market and fine chocolates and how chocolate makers coax the inherent flavors from cacao beans through the conching process. 

In style, Yuh's writing is witty but doesn't include the tacky chocolate puns usually found in writing on chocolate. Amazingly, the book keeps things light while informing us of such things as the complex five-step process of turning cacao beans into chocolate. Like producing wine, fine chocolate production requires masterful technique and an appreciation for the natural flavors found in fruit.

After reading the book, it becomes clear how to use the rest of the tasting kit. The flavors and descriptions of single-origin chocolates had me salivating and anxious to sample a few top chocolates. Importantly, The Chocolate Tasting Kit DOES NOT include chocolate. I imagine that this would be too difficult to monitor, as the freshness of good chocolate is far shorter than the freshness of a good book. In other words, it just wouldn't be practical to include chocolate in a kit that will likely stay on book shelves for years to come.


Accordingly, I went out and purchased some of Portland, Oregon's best chocolates—Woodblock Chocolate, Alma, and Moonstruck. Next, I peeled off a few tasting notecards and began filling out the information. Between this and the tasting-note flashcards, I quickly found flavors and aromas in the chocolates that I had never identified before. And I call that a success.

Chocolate is something everyone has access to and that most people love. Eagranie Yuh's The Chocolate Tasting Kit is a one-of-a-kind resource for expanding your world of chocolate.

Price: $24.95
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Where to Buy: www.chroniclebooks.com

3 comments:

Marilyn said...

This is a great review. It's entertaining and fun, I learned a lot about what the book has to offer, and it made me want to read the book. Exactly what I want from a review. Thanks!

Mattie Bamman said...

Glad you liked the review! Thank you for the kind words Marilyn. Let me know if you find a great chocolate or two...

Leeann Froese said...

We have one of these kits and were lucky enough to have a tasting done for our team at Town Hall by the talented and lovely Eagranie Yuh. This kit offers a great opportunity for a party.