Thursday, 30 October 2014

Artisan du Chocolat Java 72%

Java is one of the largest islands of Indonesia and it's landscaped by a chain of volcanic mountains. Artisan du Chocolat's Java dark chocolate was of a lighter shade of brown with a slight reddish tint when compared to their Colombian bar

The acrid, harsh aroma was seriously smokey, with ash, charred wood, burning rubber and peat coming to mind. I would have thought the beans had been dried and roasted over a fire with poor ventilation, but Javanese cocoa is naturally known to have a bold, smoked, leather flavour profile. I guess the volcanic soils of Java has so much influence over its cocoa beans. To breathe in the aroma of this chocolate was like inhaling the smoke from a blown out candle, it irritated the throat and was seemingly dangerous 

Initially the taste didn't offer much else than what the aroma did. It wasn't as pungent, but it still was overwhelmingly smokey. In regards to smoke in chocolate, subdued tobacco hints are rather nice, but this bar wasn't tobacco, it was the smoke from burning wood and car tires. There was also a hammy flavour, which I did not like. The middle-end taste surfaced a beautiful olive oil and a fruity, citrus acidity with some hints of blackberry. Strong bitter cocoa notes and an astringent feel followed, and then the unpleasant smoke returned for the finish

The added cocoa butter and soya lecithin made for a buttery smooth texture. The snap sounded great, showing the chocolate's excellent tempering

I found Artisan du Chocolat to have a distinctive style, as there were hints similar to the Colombian, like a sherbet aroma, as well the luxurious texture. I think I would have been better off trying their Java milk chocolate instead. I doubt such intense flavour could be that affected by milk solids. I imagine the Java milk bar to be actually rather tasty

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Mast Brothers 73% Dominican Republic

'Brooklyn based Mast Brothers' is, by far, the coolest wording attached to a chocolate maker, or any business for that matter. The cacao in this chocolate was organically farmed, grown under the canopy of banana and citrus trees

The packaging was charming. The colours, patterns, the front sticker stuck on unevenly, the sticker on the back mentioning "craft chocolate", just charming. Using a knife, I ripped open the paper wrapping. A sweet smell touched my nose, though my eyes were dissatisfied at the sight of bloom

Imagine a bowl of exotic fruits, each sliced in half, their juicy insides catching the sunlight, and then chocolate melting upon it all. That was the aroma. But predominately it gave way to more raisin, prune and sour cherry, red wine, molasses, toast, strawberry, and once a rich creamy cheese. It was immensely balanced  

The flavour was tannin, red wine, spice, raisin, unripe banana, and bitter. It was classic and not too complex
The texture wasn't smooth and was fairly dry. Explanations for this would be that there was no added cocoa butter, and the conching/refining process not being as experienced as, for example, Domori, due to Mast Brothers being small batch, craft chocolatiers. The snapping and chewing felt brittle, but the brittleness was, I think, worsened as it had bloomed. The chocolate was slow to initiate melt and therefore took a while to experience the flavours

Mast Brothers' Dominican Republic was favourably fruity. There were several aspects I didn't like too much, such as the tannin and astringency, and the dry, slow melting texture. But, as a bean-to-bar, craft, single origin, purer chocolate, it was pretty wicked, and at its climax it had the most beautiful, developed, red flavour

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Zotter Labooko Belize Special 72%

This chocolate consisted of Belize cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter and salt, and had been conched for 18 hours. The Belize cocoa mass is the most expensive cocoa Zotter sources, therefore giving reason to the "special" in its name

The aroma was oak, whisky, raisin, floral, and had an acidity that I often call 'urine' which quite suggests the cocoa's fermentation

Belize Special's taste opened with whisky and olive oil, with an almond perking up occasionally. When I've had whisky, I've always loved the sensation but despised its oaky taste. And this chocolate was like a whisky on the rocks, after the rocks had melted. I could taste a toasty roast, and it also reminded me of cherry brandy chocolates. When chewing, it tasted like Italian amaretti biscuits (in particular those cakey ones wrapped in the white paper: Amaretti Autentici). The aroma at times also reminded me of Italian seasoning mix (parsley, truffle, porcini mushroom, garlic etc.). I think the flavour of this chocolate was very sophisticated

It had a reasonably smooth texture. I think this chocolate is for those with a maturer palate. I didn't love it, but it grew on me

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Askinosie 72% Tenende, Tanzania

This chocolate was handcrafted with 69% cocoa liquor and 3% cocoa butter (pressed in the Askinosie factory) from Trinitario beans directly sourced from farmers in Tenende, plus 28% organic cane sugar

This Tenende bar had won 2011 Academy of Chocolate silver award 'Best Bean to Bar' and gold 'Best Packaging'

The 'Choc-o-Lot #' was 060315, which lead me to find the beans' log. For example, these beans were roasted on the 6th of March; the liquor, sugar, and butter were mixed on 7th of April; and this chocolate was packaged by hand on the 3rd of June!

The aroma was luscious. The chocolate had a fruitiness (strawberry, raspberry) over a leathery body. There was a marshmallow (that suggested African Forestaro), earth, acidity ('raw' nibs), rubber, and it was lightly floral. The raspberry made me dig out my Original Beans Porcelana to compare and I came to the conclusion that overall they smelt exceedingly similar, but the Porcelana was more chocolatey

The taste was very tannic and rubber. Then came blueberry, and then raspberry! The raspberry, like with the Porcelana, came in very soft hits. It was quite sour and acidic, somewhat bitter, and the finish lingered a tobacco. The texture was reasonably smooth, more dusty than expected 
It was acidic with the desirable fruitiness but the metallic taste suggested maybe overly acidic cacao. Apart from the metal, I really liked this chocolate. The sudden touches of raspberry, strawberry and blueberry were so "BEAUTIFUL" (as I wrote in my chocolate journal)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Chocolate Tree Ecuador Milk 55% Arriba

This small batch, craft chocolate, like The Chocolate Tree's purer 84%, was made with cacao beans from the El Ensueño farm in Ecuador. The rich aroma was dairy: cheese and creamy, and honey

The taste, concisely, was bitter, honey and cocoa. It was very tannic, particularly the finish, with dairy, wood (sawdust) and almond. The texture was fairly smooth, more so than the 84% due to the added cocoa butter

Bergamot & Raspberry
The aroma was intensely bergamot with just a whisper of raspberry. The flavour was potent bergamot with the former tannin. Concentration was needed to experience the raspberry, I initially didn't get it at all. There was the bitterness of the Arriba cacao and an astringent feel on the tongue

I'm undecided whether I like bergamot. Its bitter, floral and aromatic flavour is an acquired taste. And in this case it, almost violently, dominated the chocolate. Though when it was delicate it was heavenly. The raspberry would surface and the chocolate tasted so poised

There is something so exquisite about craft chocolate. It's like fine literature. Often too coarse to be a poem, but no less delightful than a beautifully written, irresistible novel. The Chocolate Tree's Bergamot bar (only when delicate) was like Nabokov's prose style: rich, beautiful *and* poetic 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Domori Arriba Ecuador 70%

^Photograph from Domori^
The Arriba Nacional cocoa was grown in the area of Salinas de Guaranda, Ecuador. Domori say it's extremely fresh, delicate and mellow with notes of hazelnuts, bananas and citrus fruits

The cocoa nib/metallic aroma was so heavy, I did not like it. There was earth, vanilla, and coconut too, and an unusual sweet and sour sauce. Deep in the aroma I did find nice chocolate hints and blackberry though. Whilst experiencing the aroma I thought: how could this chocolate possibly be "delicate", "mellow" and "fresh"?

The chocolate touched the tongue and it turned to silk. It was so remarkably smooth that it made me question the absence of extra cocoa butter. The ingredients were simply: cocoa nibs and cane sugar

The taste did so happen to be mellow. There was hazelnut, followed by a subtle citrus, and I most definitely tasted banana, which was ever so creamy. There was a taste of almond too (which I first recognised as marzipan). The chocolate wasn't bitter considering the rich cocoa flavour. There were mild vanilla, metallic and coffee notes

I know that Arriba cacao isn't my preferred chocolate, but this really wasn't too bad. It was just too nutty and not fruity enough for my palate. I do have more Domori chocolate to taste and, like always, I'm hopeful it'll be chocolate to lust after

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé Madagascar 72%

Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé are chocolatiers and bean-to-bar makers based in Budapest. Their Madagascar 72% chocolate tablet was of organic Trinitario cocoa beans (from the Sambirano Valley (Åkesson's planation)), organic cane sugar and cocoa butter

Unwrapping the chocolate was unlike any other. The process was like a ritual, performed with delicacy, admiration and not to be rushed. Pull up the sticker, unfold and open up the thickish wrapping-paper, pull up the next sticker, unfold and open up the tissue paper wrapping to finally unveil the beautiful tile of chocolate (the moulding inspired to look like traditional fireplace tiles)

The aroma was grass, wood, malt, roast (smokey) and a slight fruitness. The taste burst a sourness, acidity and oak wood. It was sweet and malty with little-to-no bitterness. There was a floral wave, a peachy note and a touch of spice. The finish was predominantly malt. This chocolate had a soft flavour and with the buttery smooth texture it was scrumptious

I liked this chocolate. It's nice to know I have another ornate tile (I received one from Chocablog and one from my Cocoa Runners box)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Danucci Dark Chocolate Assortment

Ferdia, formerly known as Danucci, are Irish chocolatiers, creating supposedly the finest chocolates in Ireland. The chocolates are not fresh but the idea of them being handmade is what made me to buy them, and I couldn't resist a little black box from "artisan chocolatiers"

Danucci (I prefer this name) use Valrhona chocolate which, because of its superior quality, has preference from chocolatiers, patissiers and those who know good chocolate. Danucci craft their chocolates with their own specially blended couverture

I didn't think the Rustic Praline was nutty enough, and its texture was quite crumbly and biscuity. My first impressions were that the chocolate coating had a brittle texture, dominated the flavour and that the base was too thick. The Piedmontese hazelnuts came through more towards the end and likewise with the softer Viennese almonds, but the whole praline flavour remained very subtle

This Raspberry Ganache won a Great Taste Award, and rightly so as I thought the ganache had a great flavour with a smooth, soft texture. However I did again think the chocolate coating was too thick and I would've liked more filling

The Brandy & Fig Truffle had that rum and raisin vibe which is naturally a beautiful flavour. The fig was subtle but distinct with its seedy texture. The Sea Salt Caramel was quite funny tasting. It was nutty and a dark treacle, which sounds great, but there was just something unsatisfying in it. It's also won a Great Taste Award, but I'm not convinced

For each chocolate I noticed how thick the chocolate coatings were which would wrongly distract from the fillings. In the box was also a thin placquette of the 70% couverture, though slightly tainted, it tasted very nice and was of an ideal thickness. It's a shame I wasn't enthused by these chocolates