Friday 28 November 2014

Willie's Cacao Colombian Gold Los Llanos 88

It's Willie's darkest GOLD yet. If you were to buy the Colombian 88%, you'll find that on the packaging, and online too, it will say "redcurrant and spice" notes, however on my packaging it was "soft cherry & plum". I was curious to find out which was more accurate
The single estate, Los Llanos, cacao aroma was cocoa (standard, dutch-processed), coconut, and most definitely plummy. Like dark, verging on overripe plums and their pits fermenting in barrels. Strikingly it became a malt loaf, packed with raisins, lightly spiced and made extra sticky with black tea. The malt loaf was toasted. I suspect Willie went for a medium roast 
The flavour opened with cocoa, which also finished the chocolate, and a soft bitterness. Naturally, as chocolate melts, flavour compounds break down on the tongue and you begin tasting all the different flavours of the chocolate. With this Colombian 88%, cherry quietly surfaced, which brought a sour-cherry feeling on the tongue. The cherry remained mild in taste though, with only the slightest sourness. I discerned the toasty roast, but apart from that ... nothing. I was hoping for more flavours, like the plentiful fruits in aroma. Once, whilst chewing it tasted like a cherry sponge cake

The chocolate didn't take me on a gustatory journey. I will admit that the intense cocoa flavour distracted me slightly, but I still don't think it had a complex flavour. I liked the aroma though, that was nostalgic. Like Willie's Peruvian, it smelt like Polish sweet things - cherry, plum, prune etc.

I like my chocolate to be a little sweeter and fruitier

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Zotter Scotch Whisky & Amaretto-Marzipan

That of Zotter I know and have experienced, I am confident in saying that the chocolate is exceptionally high quality. All ingredients are organic and the chocolate itself, made bean-to-bar, is Fairtrade. With the flavours being so innovative, and the branding especially unique, one could be no less than over the moon to receive a few Zotter chocolate bars, from the man himself, to taste and review!

Zotter currently make just over 100 hand-scooped bars! If I had to pick only a few from the range to try, the Amaretto-Marzipan bar would have certainly been one of them. There are many flavours that will blow your mind, either because they sound so heavenly or just so wild
@ZotterChocolate: At recent tastings people said "you must have a huge development team". They looked stunned when I replied "no, just one man-Josef Zotter" 
The Scotch Whisky bar had a great texture, as I'm sure you can imagine. A thin layer of couverture and then a soft, smooth ganache. Let it melt and oh boy. The taste throughout was whisky, with even the 70% cocoa coating tasting of the spirit. The ganache was ever so creamy and sometimes rather punchy with its flavour, but it didn't give that sensation that whisky does. You know, that throat burning one. Overall, it's an enjoyable flavour pairing, and I guess far more forgiving than pairing chocolate with your whisky drink

The Amaretto-Marzipan had a 60% dark milk chocolate coating. "La Dolce Vita". The coarse textured marzipan was soaked in amaretto and laid upon an almond nougat layer. I had expectations of this chocolate being magical. I liked it, but found myself only really enjoying it at its finish. As at first, the plethora of almond (marzipan, liqueur, nougat (flavoured with almond oil)) seemed almost superfluous. But a few more bites in and the chocolate harmonised with the almond; a delicate and sophisticated flavour had been born. Though still not quite bedazzling, and with its less indulgent mouthfeel, it grew on me, and what I liked most was its bittersweet flavours and how it evoked a taste from my childhood

Thursday 20 November 2014

Omnom Madagascar 66% & Dark Nibs + Raspberries

I first came across Omnom Chocolate when The Dieline wrote up on them at the start of the year. The first thing you notice about Omnom is their distinctive packaging, which means their mission has been a success: "Packaging is the first visual and last physical contact a brand has with a customer and I wanted it to be a lasting one." The cool illustrations were inspired by living and traveling in Iceland

Omnom are an Icelandic bean to bar company, handcrafting their chocolate bars from premium sourced beans, raw cane sugar and cacao butter. The bars had a delicate body, excellent snap and sheen, and a smooth texture

The 66% had a metallic aroma. Apart from that it was quite closed, with subdued wood, and minuscule fruity and floral notes 

The flavour opened with a metallic taste, the same metallic acidity that was in the aroma. The melt was rather smooth. A while in and red fruits started to surface, finally! Then, all of a sudden, sour acidity, like a gun shot, shot through the taste buds. Incredible. This is the Madagascan cocoa I know and love. It became so tangy, and just so wild! 

The envelope design is a "secret chest of happiness", it can be closed to protect the chocolate and also serves as a tray to share and enjoy the chocolate on

The Dark Nibs + Raspberries bar is part of their 2014 festive collection, along with a Milk + Cookies bar (almond spiced cookies, sounds pretty wicked). It's the Madagascar 66% sprinkled with dried raspberries and Madagascan nibs. There is an E number in there (acting as a thickener), make of that as you wish

The texture was cool. The aroma was raspberry with that recognisable metal but also quite chocolatey

The chewy raspberries added such a buzzing tartness to the already sour chocolate! The nibs tasted too metallic (boy is Madagascan cocoa acidic), but the raspberries were great. Such a buzzing chocolate. It was like raspberry jam on chocolate, now just need some homemade nutbutter!

The 66% alone surprised me. After its aroma and first 5 seconds or so in the mouth, one would have never expected such a sourness and fruity acidity to come from, what seemed like, nowhere

Monday 10 November 2014

The Chocolate Tree Peru 80% and 70% Nibs & Salt

This is my final instalment of The Chocolate Tree's bean to bar chocolate bars. I do hope it's not my last taste of The Chocolate Tree though, as I'd love to try more of their artisanal chocolates. The two small batch, made from the bean chocolate bars I have left are made from Peruvian cacao

The 80% was mixed with cane sugar only. It had a delicate aroma, I liked it. It's worth noting that the 84% Ecuador chocolate from The Chocolate Tree was Arriba Nacional cacao too, yet the chocolates compared are so different. That is one of the great things about cocoa: how it varies from terrain to terrain, despite being the same variety. It had a rich chocolate undertone, with a citrus acidity (grapefruit), floral, raisin,  and a little spice

The flavour slowly opened with intense tannins, and eventually surfaced raisin, caramel, and spice. It was somewhat acidic, and had a dry finish with wood and tannin flavours. The caramel was superb 

The 70% Nibs & Salt "is a lighter version of the 80% Peru, but with the addition of the salt and nibs it becomes a completely different beast - and a much more complex one at that" - Chocolatiers 

It had a similar aroma, but with highlight to the salt. The flavour was intensely chocolatey when it was chewed. The nibs added a more distinct acidity, yet thankfully didn't taste metallic. The flavour was very nice, it wasn't salty and rather sweet. I preferred its flavour when chewing, because this way the extra chocolatey flavour [from the nibs] would overpower the salt. There was blackberry, minimal taste of tannins, and it wasn't as dry as the 80%

The Chocolate Tree being small batch craft chocolatiers and having textures this smooth was great. The 80% was smoother than previous bars I've had from The Chocolate Tree, which could be down to the 60 hour conch time, which may or may not be longer than their other bars. I thought the Peruvian cacao from Marañón was excellent!

Saturday 8 November 2014

Åkesson's 75% Trinitario & "Wild" Voarsiperifery Pepper

Cocoa and pepper both grow in Åkesson's Ambolikapiky plantation, which is located in the Sambirano Valley, Madagascar. The voatsiperifery pepper was said to be the finest and rarest of all pepper, and have a profile of earth, wood and flower

Despite this chocolate having won gold in the International Chocolate Awards and in the Academy of Chocolate awards, I don't think I was as excited to try as if it had been the Madagascan chocolate alone (without the pepper). The cocoa was said to have a fruity-sweet tartness and a flavour that evoked citrus and red berries which, to me, is a cocoa to die for. I felt that the pepper would distract ...
The aroma was black pepper. The taste was black pepper. A soft bitter cocoa came through once the pepper had marked its territory. I was surprised when I had eventually found a fruitiness in the aroma (of which was very pleasant) and also gherkin, as the pepper was most potent. The taste gifted, after long delay, an acidity and fruitiness too, which made the chocolate become far more impressive. The finish was peppery and lasted a very long while
The texture was smooth with little crackles of pepper darted around. The chocolate was made from organic cacao, organic cane sugar, organic cacao butter, emulsifier, and then 2% pepper

This spiced chocolate was warming, certainly preferable to chilli in chocolate, and one that I'd recommend. Although, I do think I'd have rather had the single plantation 75% Trinitario chocolate alone

Thursday 6 November 2014

Thorntons Continental

Just recently I received a bundle of Thank You boxes from Lindt and now Thorntons have given me some chocolates. It's so lovely because I find utter ecstasy in a box of chocolates. They're something I rarely buy myself, and even though these chocolates are not handmade, nor fresh and widely available, I was still excited

Thorntons are celebrating 60 years of their sumptuous Continental collection, and what better way to celebrate than eating their European inspired chocolates and writing about it?

Monday 3 November 2014

Hotel Chocolat Supermilk

Has Hotel Chocolat, ultimately, revolutionised milk chocolate? With their tremendous acclaim, they have the power to do so. It's evident that the UK are now, more than ever, wanting high quality, luxurious chocolate, and Hotel Chocolat, I believe, is the go-to. For a well known and established brand to offer a dark milk chocolate has now set standards - and soon to change the ideology - for milk chocolate, hopefully

The Supermilk is 65% cocoa, 20% sugar and 14% whole milk, with "all the pleasure of milk chocolate and all the power of dark"

The smell was rich cocoa, with coconut and vanilla, reminiscent of a standard dark chocolate (i.e. not "flavour beans") with a milk creaminess. The taste initially lacked sweetness, with a soft, far from harsh bitterness. The melting texture was soft, clean and smooth. As the Supermilk had an earthiness and metallic taste (opposed to the 'chocolate' flavour I was expecting), I wasn't swept off my feet. But it had a nice acidity, though of which I hoped would surface red fruits - it didn't

When chewing, it tasted like the richest chocolate brownie. And when the Supermilk was chewed, that's when the sugar came through and that's when I adored the flavour - such richness with a touch of sweetness. There was a touch of spice in there too!

If the Supermilk was more chocolatey, had a subtle caramelised flavour and didn't have that metal taste, it would have been out of this world! But I think naturally my theobromine and sugar veins needed a fruity cacao body and a little more sweetness. By my third tasting, I really loved it though and thought I'd definitely have it again. My ideal Supermilk would be 70% cocoa (pref. bursting a fruitiness, maybe Madagascan), 15% whole milk and 15% Demerara sugar for a rich, deep flavoured, rustic crunch!