What are Some Activities That Involve or Revolve Around Chocolate?
If you have a penchant for chocolate, you most likely want to share that passion with others. But besides sharing your Godiva bar, what else can you do to invite others to participate in the glory of chocolate discovery and tasting? There are various activities that you can join, or initiate for a fee, or even free. Depending on your goals and the desires of your social group, you can create new traditions or have a one-time experience.
Many chocolate experiences take place outside of the home, such as chocolate factory tours, or chocolate (bar) hopping. Still others can be had without putting on your shoes. Home-based parties, tastings, and game nights are all popular choices as well. Choosing a chocolate related activity will depend on your resources of time, money and the area in which you live. Also in consideration, is your audience, or guest list. Once you determine what outcome you desire, it will be easy to choose an activity that will fit your needs and excite your guests.
The activities in this article include suggestions for events that are intended for adults. However, most can be modified for families or for younger groups. Activities range from attending a tour outside your house to creating a chocolate and cheese tasting party in your home. Some activities require a fee (such as attending a chocolate show) while others can be done for free, or a nominal fee (such as watching a movie with a theme of chocolate).
I’ve often quipped that chocolate runs through my veins or that I generously contribute to the national average for chocolate consumption. To fuel my passion for chocolate, I look for ways to share the chocolate experience with friends and people who are “like-minded”. I have attended chocolate shows, visited factories and plantations, and taken specialty classes. At the end of the day, chocolate reigns, but particularly when it is a shared experience.
Go on a Chocolate Excursion
It’s easy enough to check out chocolate excursions that are offered in your area. For the most part, a company agrees to bus you and your party around town while stopping by various places which have a connection to chocolate whether baked item, a hot drink, or chocolate truffles. This is a guided tour which often includes the history of the city. For busy cities, a similar walking tour is available. There is no reason why you can’t design your own chocolate tour, keeping in mind your group’s interests, budget and energy level. Choose a variety of stops so there is something for everybody and an assortment of samples. A sample itinerary might involve a stop at a chocolate shop for turtles, a visit to a bakery for chocolate croissants, an appearance at a bar for some chocolate Kahlua Crème De Cacao, an ice cream shop for some authentic chocolate gelato, and finally a stop at a coffee/hot chocolate hotspot. Be sure to include any photo opportunities.
Hold a Pairing Party
For most people this will mean wine and chocolate as well as spirits and chocolate but cheese and chocolate works exceptionally well too. It’s not just about washing down a Lindt bar with a glass of Chardonnay but also creating an atmosphere where relaxation and good conversation can occur. There are plenty of guides and pairing selections to be had by making an internet search but before you do that, ask yourself what the purpose of your party is. Do you want it to be intimate? Do you want to host a large crowd so you can have more samples? Consider making sturdy signage as well as a “score sheet” that guests can keep track of observations and preferences. Begin searching for less obvious chocolates such as chili infused, limoncello, fig & pistachio, and even ruby chocolate.
Have a Class Taught in Your Home
If you have the talent and expertise, you can have a hands-on class in your home, or over Zoom. If you want to add more credibility to your class, hire an instructor with experience and the proper tools and equipment. Choose activities that can be completed in a reasonable time. For instance, chocolate lava cakes bake for 14 minutes as compared to a triple chocolate Bundt cake that takes over an hour to bake. If you are short on space, consider a demonstration rather than a hands-on class.
Take a Factory Tour
Not all chocolate factories open their doors for visitors, but the ones who do, seldom disappoint. Some tours are self-guided, while others have a formal sign-up and a ticket requirement. The one in Hershey Pennsylvania is the most notorious tour, but with a little research, it is easy to find one in your state. Generally the tour involves the process of making chocolate, the history of the company, and the ever-popular samples at the end of the tour. (See article on chocolate tours)
Go to a Chocolate Show
There are some large chocolate shows with long traditions held in major cities across the US and if you attend one, you will find out what the current trends are and learn a ton of information from the exhibitors. For a general admission price, you can visit displays, watch demonstrations, meet chefs and authors, and eat endless samples. Don’t live near a city? No problem, there are plenty of local shows to be found, many of which are presented as a charity fundraiser.
Map Your Own Chocolate Trail
Don’t assume because you haven’t heard of it, that there is not an adventure to be had. You do not have to fly to Switzerland or Belgium to get your hands on quality chocolate. Chances are there are some top-notch chocolatiers who are anxious to share their unique offerings right in your backyard. By googling a few chocolate inquiries, you can map a route which will include several stops. So make a plan, grab another chocolate aficionado and hit the tasting road.
Host a Chocolate Contest or Chocolate Potluck
It doesn’t get any better than having someone else fulfill your chocolate yearnings. By hosting a chocolate potluck, you have no idea what delectable treats might show up on the table. For those with a competitive streak, you can make a contest out of it with simple categories such as cookies, brownies, chocolate work, sauces, etc. Perhaps you can up the ante by having it at your workplace. Either way, ask for recipes, and make a score sheet to determine the winner.
Enter a Locally or Nationally Sponsored Chocolate Contest
It’s fun to create a recipe or chocolate masterpiece in the kitchen but it’s particularly exciting if it is part of a challenge or contest. Scour the internet and local newspaper for upcoming chocolate themed contests. Look at guidelines for local fairs as well. Some are nationally sponsored while others are more “in the neighborhood”. Carefully read the criteria and try your luck for being recognized for something that challenges you.
Watch Chocolate Themed Movies
Raid your chocolate stockpile and invite a few friends over to watch the chocolate classics. There are two versions of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that will get you wanting to eat hot fudge sauce straight from the jar. Another family friendly flick is the “I Love Lucy” chocolate factory episode. If you’re up for some subtitles, check out “Chocolat” (2000). If you’re in the binging mood, watch chocolate related cooking reality shows like School of Chocolate. Lastly, for adults is the 1992 film “Like Water for Chocolate”.
Participate in a Chocolate-Themed Game Night.
It’s easy to collect a bunch of trivia questions, make a question and answer board, or guess the slogan contest. Add a “guess the number” of chocolate covered almonds in the jar and you have a real party. Not up to the planning? There are several chocolate board/trivia games online as well as online “chocolate” video games.
- Celebrate World Chocolate Day and National Chocolate Day held on July 7 and Oct 28 respectively. Doesn’t fit into your schedule? Perhaps a variant such as National Milk Chocolate Day (July), National Cocoa Day (December) or National White Chocolate Day (September) will give you an excuse to celebrate.
- Participate in the Tim Tam Slam
A Tim Tam is a chocolate covered biscuit (cookie) from Australia that is widely available in several flavors such as mint, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. It is rectangular in shape and the idea of the slam is to use the biscuit as a straw. The participant bites off two diagonal corners and then “slurps'' up a hot beverage such as hot cocoa. The Tim Tam begins to melt and get gooey and the object is to eat it before it disappears. Both fun and amazingly tasty, this is an activity to solo or with a group of merrymakers.
Belly Up to the Bar
A hot cocoa party will give a twist to the traditional cocktail party. For those wishing to indulge, there are several spirits which will pair well with hot chocolate. For a more family friendly party, besides offering a variety of cocoa flavors, there are quite a few syrups on the market to add to the cocoa. For instance, caramel, rum, peppermint, hazelnut and French vanilla are some of the more popular add-ins. The fun continues when there are a variety of marshmallows, whipped creams, and sprinkles to add to the mug.
Make a Chocolate-Themed Gift
Making a chocolate-themed gift is almost as fun as receiving one. Perhaps you would like to take a shot at making the trendy hot chocolate “bombs” for your friends, or try your hand at making chocolate truffles. An oldie but a goodie is making “mixes” in a jar such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies, or even chocolate pudding bases. This activity can be done on your own, at your pace, or you can double the fun by inviting others over. Each person could be in charge of bringing the ingredients/materials for one gift. This might be so much fun that you choose to keep the gifts for yourself!
Run for Hot Cocoa
Let’s face it, it might be a good idea to balance all this chocolate indulging with a little exercise. There are hundreds of road races, generally in the winter with a hot cocoa theme. If you’re going to exercise, you matters well get some chocolate bling. Some races offer chocolate themed medals as well as a “swag bag”. And of course, there is hot chocolate at the end of the run. Most races benefit a charity as well so “winner, winner, chocolate dinner”.
There are endless opportunities to interact with chocolate so it’s time to get out your calendar and start planning your next chocolate adventure. Whether you prefer to fly solo, or you’re more of a crowd person, you can find the perfect excuse to have and share more chocolate.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore