October 09, 2018

Guide to Gifting To’ak Chocolate

By Jerry Toth

If you’re interested in gifting To’ak Chocolate to someone, but you’re not sure which bar(s) to choose, this blog post is written for you.

Gifting is an important part of pretty much every culture on the planet, but it's not easy. Choosing the best gift for the right situation is an art form. You want something unique, artful, thoughtful, preferably experiential, and ultimately pleasurable. Welcome to To'ak Chocolate. This is what we specialize in. 

The truth of the matter is that all editions of To'ak Chocolate are special, and they’re also quite versatile. Any one bar can work very well in a wide range of circumstances. The suggestions below are simply my personal recommendations.

Please note that all of these editions are packaged in a handcrafted Spanish Elm wood box with an individual bar number engraved on the back, and include a booklet and tasting utensils. The only edition that contains additional elements is the Art Series “Duality Blend” edition, which also includes a certified print by the late, famed Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín.

Categories explored below include:

  • For the dark chocolate connoisseur
  • For someone relatively new to dark chocolate
  • For the whisky drinker
  • For the cigar aficionado
  • For the wine lover
  • To go with cheese
  • For a romantic evening
  • For the art enthusiast
  • For the person who already has everything
  • To share amongst a large group
  • For a spring/summer party
  • For an autumn/winter party

Best chocolate for the dark chocolate connoisseur: If you’re gifting a bar (or two) to a true dark chocolate connoisseur, there are two directions you can take. If it’s for someone who is passionate about exploring and trying unique cacao varieties and origins, you should consider any of our “Harvest” editions, such as Rain Harvest 2017 or El Niño Harvest 2016. Our Harvest editions were created to showcase the signature aromas and flavor profile of Ecuador’s famous “Nacional” variety of cacao, as expressed by the Heirloom-designated appellation of Piedra de Plata. On the other hand, if the giftee’s interest is more general, and you simply wish to give him or her the most rarified expression of chocolate that we know of, I would recommend one of our Vintage editions (which means it has been aged for several years), such as Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask Matured 3 Years, Vintage 2015 Palo Santo Matured 3 Years, or our Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured 4 Years. However, if you simply want to give this person our finest expression of chocolate, I would choose our Art Series “Duality” Blend. Even aside from the art work, purely in terms of the chocolate itself, in my opinion this is our finest achievement as chocolate makers. (Note: my favorite edition of To’ak Chocolate changes frequently, but this is the one that spends the most time at the top of my personal list.)

RH17 

Best chocolate for someone relatively new to dark chocolate: You’ll want to choose one of our more accessible bars, from a flavor perspective—something with wide and seductive appeal, yet also something that showcases a level of complexity that may be quite new to the giftee. Believe it or not, I may actually choose our Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask 3, which has a relatively low 73% cacao percentage. Even with the subtle notes of peat from the Laphroaig barrel, the underlying chocolate is extremely smooth, with very appealing caramel notes and red fruit. Among our Harvest editions, I would recommend Rain Harvest 2017. El Niño Harvest 2016 and some of our wood-aged editions (such as Andean Alder) are best reserved for more experienced palates. But hey, you never know. Something extremely exotic, like Vintage 2015 Kampot Pepper Matured may totally blow his or her mind (in a good way).

Best chocolate for the whisky drinker: Our Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask 3 is the most obvious top choice here, because it was aged in a Laphroaig Scotch whisky barrel. It is a beautiful chocolate on its own, but it also pairs extremely well with whisky—not surprisingly. But this is by no means your only option. In fact, the “whisky drinker” is arguably the easiest person to gift a bar of To’ak chocolate, because so many editions pair so well with whisky, including both Harvest editions currently available (Rain Harvest 2017 and El Niño Harvest 2016), as well as…honestly, every single edition we have pairs very well with whisky. If it’s someone with a very bold palate, who specifically prefers heavily-peated whiskies, I may recommend our Vintage 2014 Andean Alder Matured. If, on the other hand, the giftee is more of a rye whiskey drinker, I’d opt for the Vintage 2015 Kampot Pepper Matured.

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Best chocolate for the cigar aficionado: Our most tobacco-forward editions are: Vintage 2014 Andean Alder Matured, Rain Harvest 2017, and El Niño Harvest 2016. I bet Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask and Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured would also be a fan favorite here.

Best chocolate for the wine lover: Purely from a flavor perspective, the top choice is our Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured. Any of the Harvest editions as well as the barrel-aged Vintage editions. Remember that dark chocolate rarely pairs well with wine, unless it’s a sweet dessert wine. But these are the editions that a wine lover will most enjoy on their own (or paired with a sweet dessert wine).

Best chocolate to go with cheese: El Niño Harvest 2016, Vintage 2015 Kampot Pepper Matured, Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured…and pretty much every single other edition of chocolate we have. To’ak Chocolate pairs excellently with many cheeses, particularly alpine cheeses (e.g., Comté, Gruyère and Beaufort), Pyrenees sheep milk cheese (e.g., P'tit Basque and Brebis), Manchego, mature Gouda, and some brie cheeses (e.g., Brillat-Savarin).

Best chocolate for a romantic evening: Start out by thinking if you want to only taste dark chocolate together, or if you also want to pair the chocolate with wine, spirits, or cheeses. If you wish to pair it with something, refer to our pairing guide. Otherwise, maybe steer toward the surprisingly silky Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask Matured, or the sumptuous Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured, or perhaps the spicy Vintage 2015 Kampot Pepper Matured.

Best chocolate for the art enthusiast: The Art Series Blend is the clear favorite, here. But every other bar we have will also work in this situation. Every single edition of To’ak Chocolate is a work of art, from the chocolate itself all the way through the handcrafted Spanish Elm Wood box and everything that comes with it.

Best chocolate for the person who has everything: Same exact answer as above.

Best chocolate to share amongst a large group: Anything but Vintage 2014 Andean Alder Matured. As stated above, that edition is for experienced palates. In this situation, it’s better to try something that is more universally accessible.

Best chocolate for a spring/summer party: Consider the Vintage 2015 Kampot Pepper Matured edition…paired with an añejo tequila and/or some of the cheeses discussed here.

Best chocolate or an autumn/winter party: Perhaps one of the barrel-aged editions (Vintage 2015 Single Malt Islay Cask Matured or Vintage 2014 Cognac Cask Matured) or wood-aged editions (Vintage 2014 Andean Alder Matured or Vintage 2015 Palo Santo Matured).

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