Interview with The Blenderist, Chocolate Codex, Jasmine Lukuku with Victoria Cooksey

Note:  This blog post was originally published on 9-2-16 on my blog Dark Matters Fine Chocolate Reviews on blogspot.

I first talked with Jasmine Lukuku during a live chat on tasting chocolate while earning my Mastering Chocolate Flavor Certificate from Ecole Chocolat.  Jasmine is so delightful, up beat, and informative! Not only a graduate from Ecole Chocolat as well, Jasmine is also a co-founder of the Chocolate Codex,, a great source for tasting notes on several fine chocolate bars. She also has The Blenderist website,, full of her own recipe creations, many of which contain chocolate.  On top of that she also has a design business too! Whew, she is one creative lady!!!

I want to give her a big thank you for answering my questions on her memories of chocolate, chocolate tasting tips, her upcoming projects, what exactly is aquafaba, and much more for this blog interview post.  Awesome! Enjoy!

Victoria Cooksey:  What is your first memory involving chocolate?

Jasmine Lukuku:  When I was a kid, I was more interested in candy. I loved Liquorice Allsorts and still do. My first real memories of chocolate are from my pre-teen years. My mom would make chocolate pudding from scratch and I would love to eat it warm.

VC:  How has your certificate in chocolate making from Ecole Chocolat changed your views on using chocolate in your own recipes,  and when you try chocolate creations made my others? 

JL:  My education with Ecole Chocolat expanded my appreciation for flavor pairing. Now, I consider the flavor profile of the chocolate before using it in a recipe. In the past, I would have only looked at the percentage. Now I understand how varied chocolate can be and that is important to acknowledge when you are trying to make a harmonious creation. I also look for the same harmony when I try stuff made my other people.

VC:  What was your inspiration to start the Chocolate Codex, and how do you choose chocolate bars to review for it? 

JL:  When my boyfriend’s parents would go travelling, they would always bring us back special chocolate bars. This got us hooked His father is an incredible chocolatier, so hunting down great chocolate is a priority for him when he travels.

We decided to start Chocolate Codex as a way to catalog and quantify our personal experience with the bars we were tasting. We are design nerds, so we created our own system and graphics to help us organize our tasting notes.

We don’t have a strict criteria for the bars we review; we try to stick with “craft chocolate” but that term is thrown around all loosey-goosey. We research brands and try to find out who is putting in work and care.

Jasmine Lukuku

VC:  What is your personal approach to tasting chocolate, and what has helped you to improve on picking out flavor notes? 

JL:  I approach chocolate tasting in stages. I will do a casual, quick tasting at first to get my instinctual impressions and make a note of them. Later, I go back and do a more focused tasting to complete my tasting notes and write out my thoughts.

 I like to try new fruits, vegetables and spices as a way to build my flavor vocabulary. The more you try, the more you can draw upon when you are tasting chocolate.

VC:  Any tips on making tasting chocolate less intimidating for consumers who are just discovering the world of fine chocolate? 

 JL:  Grab some close friends and just make a social event out of chocolate tasting. Don’t be afraid to say the “wrong” thing. If someone tries to make you feel bad about your chocolate tasting skills, they are a bad person. Ignore them.

VC:  What is the strangest flavor note you ever tasted in a chocolate bar?  What was the worst?

 JL:  The strangest flavor note I’ve ever tasted was dill weed. I am not a fan of dill, so it was a bit of a turn off for me. The worst is not really a flavor note but a flaw, moldy beans. I’ve had a couple of bars where you can tell that mouldy beans got into the mix. They are inedible. I’ve kept the bars so I can use them as an example to show people how bad it can be.

VC:  What are your thoughts on similarities, and differences when it comes to chocolate tasting versus wine tasting? 

JL:  Wine tasting is way ahead as far as public awareness goes. I think that the general population understands the diversity of wine, but not the diversity of chocolate. So, when you say you are doing a chocolate tasting they imagine a bunch of filled bonbons instead of a handful of austere squares of chocolate. It’s usually a shock that those little squares can pack so many flavors. So, I would say the similarity is the element of surprise. I’ve had wines and chocolates (not at the same time) that have made my brain melt because they’ve been so crazy tasting.

VC:  Is there anything about the way chocolate bars are advertised, packaged, discussed, or inclusions added to the bars that you find annoying? 

 JL:  I’m not a huge fan of chocolate companies that use the superfood/health angle as their main marketing message. I am sure it sells, but it doesn’t appeal to me.  As far as inclusions go, I’m pretty open minded…but I don’t care much for orange flavored chocolate.

VC:  Chocolate is a part of many of your recipes on The Blenderist site.  Any tips for handling chocolate when baking, or how to pick out the right chocolate for best results in a recipe? 

JL:  I buy my chocolate from a local gourmet supply shop, not the grocery store. It’s a bit more expensive, but they have a better selection. I definitely consider the overall composition of the dessert when I’m picking chocolate. I’m usually looking for a pleasing contrast. If I’m not familiar with the flavor profile of a chocolate brand, I’ll visit their website and see if they have any flavor notes. That being said, I try to create recipes that are versatile enough to allow for a variety of chocolate choices.

VC:  While you certainly stay busy with all your creative endeavors are there any new projects that you are working on that you can give us all a hint about? 

 JL:  Yes! I’m currently working on a vegan dessert eCookbook. I am not vegan, but I have been experimenting with aquafaba and it is pretty incredible stuff. Aquafaba is the water you drain from a can of chickpeas or other beans. It whips up just like egg whites so you can make meringues! That inspired me to take on the challenge of making a cookbook full of vegan desserts that an omnivore with a serious sweet tooth would love.


VC:  For the grand finale what is your favorite chocolate to eat right now?

 JL:  My chocolate stash is totally depleted! I need to go on a trip to restock. Luckily we have some great brands in Canada . I really love Sirene, a maker from my hometown of Victoria and Soma Chocolatemaker from Toronto. Team Canada!

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