Thursday, 29 January 2015

Askinosie 70% San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador + Cocoa Nibs

This handcrafted chocolate was perfectly single origin. The added 2% cocoa butter (pressed in Askinosie's factory) and the roasted nibs on the back were both from the same batch of beans used to make the bar itself, "so in just one bite you can taste the entire story" - amazing

The bar was bought for me in the US by my brother, and I know that it is very difficult to find in the UK (only seen Cocoa Runners selling it - £6.95)! Askinosie pair this nib-studded Ecuador chocolate with nutty, savoury Gruyère, but here I am pairing it with solitude
The aroma instantly reminded me of the Tenende bar, it had a sweet smell, kind of like marshmallow - something distinct of Askinosie? It was immensely chocolatey with rubber and leather at the back, lots of delicate floral notes, bergamot and something like prune
Tobacco and cocoa were followed by flowers and earth, green banana, a little citrus buzz (bergamot). There was an acidic feel on the tongue nearing and in the finish. And in the finish there was a flooding of sweetness. Jasmine surfaced, and so did a rich chocolate flavour. The nibs gave their distinct generic taste (though superior to most)

When chewing came fruity notes, red berry, once blackcurrant, though I thought overall it remained very green, as if the heavier flavours were subduing the colourful, bright fruits

*UPDATE* I also had the chocolate without nibs, and I thought the chocolate to be so creamy, but also noticed an intense blueberry note!

It was not a bitter chocolate (far from), but its roasted flavour latched on to the back of the tongue in the finish, which I guess masqueraded as a bitterness

This Ecuadorian bar had a crunchy texture. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. I love Askinosie's packaging, and seeing the farmer, Vitaliano Saravia, on the front made it a more personal, yet connected, chocolate bar

Friday, 23 January 2015

Madécasse 80%

Madécasse are Madagascar's only bean-to-bar company exporting overseas

I bought this 75g bar -when Waitrose first started stocking Madécasse- for just £1.99! Though, as that was an introductory offer to lure in the customers, they now retail for £2.99, which still is of an incredible value. You see, Madécasse source their cocoa from farmers of the Ezaka Cooperative, and as the chocolate is then produced in Madagascar it means the farmers are receiving a greater share of the price we are paying! 

Buying Madécasse means you are supporting and sustaining the growth of this PURE "heirloom cacao", as well as encouraging all cocoa farmers to grow 'flavour' (the higher quality) cocoa beans. But it also means you're getting excellent chocolate. I think this of all chocolate within this market, but I am raising the issue here because of how obtainable Madécasse is! 
The light shade of brown looked like a milk chocolate. Unlike the 75% and the 70%, this chocolate does not have vanilla - only cocoa beans, natural cane sugar and cocoa butter. However, the aroma was brazen vanilla. It too was very creamy, mizeria (polish dish: cucumber, dill, sour cream), floral, raspberry, coconut, cherry, leather, smoked. My God, it was beautiful. It was like I was in solitude in a dimly lit room, filled with mahogany and walnut burl furnishings, sitting on a Chesterfield sofa, having spirits neat from the drinks cabinet, with a cigar - pretty lavish 

The taste began with dusty cocoa, it was bitter, then a rush of strawberry, and grains too. It had quite the roasted flavour. The bright acidic fruitiness was dominated by the roast, but it was still there and there too was the occasional luscious Madagascan sour twang

I feel that maybe Madécasse are not as skilled in the making process as they are in their ethical stance, but nevertheless the chocolate is excellent. Although I prefer a lower %, it is real great chocolate and I really hope Waitrose stock the 70%, or maybe I will try the flavoured bars. I just love the fact that it is Madagascan cocoa with natural cane sugar

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Willie's Cacao Venezuelan Gold Las Trincheras 72

Willie's Cacao has two Venezuelan chocolates. They're both at 72%, but the beans are sourced from separate estates - roughly 750km away. I have had the Rio Caribe, now it is time for a taste of Las Trincheras! 

The aroma was chocolate, leather, chili pepper, peanuts, ... piss (a characteristic I think of as being quite Peruvian), honey and coffee

The flavour started with cocoa, then opened up to chilli, roasted peanuts, with a honey and yellow raisin sweetness. The taste of cocoa was throughout, with there also being wood, bitterness and tea (once it was like I had just sucked a tea bag)

Occasionally it had a real sour twang, which was very nice. Overall a nice, but not stunning, chocolate

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 Java 74% Milk

Java 74% milk chocolate from Hotel Chocolat's Rabot 1745 range. The cocoa beans were roasted for 39 minutes at 130 C, with a refine & conche time of 42 hours

Due to Java's "almost perpetual" rainfall, it is common for farmers to use wood fired dryers to dry their cocoa. This in turn, unfortunate to me, lends the distinctive smoked flavour that Javanese chocolate is known for

The tasting description was "Old-school glam. Opens like an enriched mousse au chocolat, filling the mouth with a lush smoothness. Notes of malted biscuits and baked banana swish by." Haha, NICE!
The aroma was intensely chocolate, with metal, minerals and cocoa nibs. I understand the "mousse au chocolat". When the nose sat, there came the infamous smoked note. There was a distinct rich caramel and butterscotch, of which I pictured drizzling down the "baked banana" 

The taste was cocoa, noticing the very little sugar (14%) right away, unripe banana, fairly roasted. It was bitter and creamy, with an astringent feel in the finish. There was a bright, fruity sweetness in the middle, and the bitter cocoa restored with a spiced feel too. The texture was very smooth

This 35g chocolate was £3.75, and I really love the rustic look of it and how delicate it felt. Its flavour profile was not one I enjoyed so much, but, if a little sweeter and a little fruitier it would have been definitley more enjoyable than Artisan du Chocolat's 72% dark Java

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Michel Cluizel Mokaya 66%

This was the first chocolate bar I bought when in France. It is Michel Cluizel's Mokaya, made with cocoa beans from the Chiapas region in Mexico, cane sugar, cocoa butter and Bourbon vanilla pod

How I chose this bar amongst the many other Cluziel bars in the small chocolatier was that I was looking for the description 'fruité'. Whilst waiting for the espressos to be made, and nibbling on their Provencal confectionery served on a silver tray, the women opened up Cluizel's Maralumi (Papua New Guinea) for me to taste. Though it was good, I decided on MeHicoooo!
The mould is beautiful. The aroma had sweet liquorice and a powerful roast over a leathery body, with dried fruits and a smokiness at the very back

The taste was leather still, and especially creamy. Straight away you could taste its roasted flavour. There came the acidity and fruitiness, and then the occasional green feel - banana, earth, moss; once floral -rose (Turkish delight). The Mokaya was very sweet. The structure of flavour was consistent. Nearing the finish was a rather pronounced cherry/raspberry note, which was the best thing about this chocolate
The texture was buttery, and because of how this chocolate tasted, it made me think there was a fair bit of cocoa butter added. There also was a slight astringent feel in the finish

This Mokaya chocolate is good, it was like raspberry jam on nearly burnt toast, but it lacked a depth. The creaminess and roasted flavours dominated, but it was a very mellow chocolate

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Paul A Young 64% Whole Bean Madagascar

Paul A Young and his team had made Europe's first whole bean chocolate bars, using a blend of beans direct from Menakao in Madagascar. Along with this 64%, a 73% was made too; both were small batch

The whole beans were granite ground with Billington's Organic Unrefined Demerara sugar! 
The results were said to be "intoxicating, soft-fruited" chocolate bars with a "distinct acidity" which, to me, sounded perfect. The chocolate was also to have a nutty, toasted flavour (which were the characteristics of the outer shell of the beans)

The aroma was red. An abundance of fruits, a little peppery

The initial taste was nutmeg. It was slow to melt, tasting like a rounded red wine, so I chewed and then bolder fruits were unleashed. An intense burst of acidity nearing the finish. Incredible. It was very sweet

The melting texture was coarse, and to chew reminded me of an Aero chocolate bar, but firmer. It was gritty with the tiny pieces of the shell, but that made it a unique and very fun experience

The finish was toasty and quite chocolatey, with remnants of the bean's shell being left to chew

This chocolate was very interesting, particularly the texture, but I just LOVED the flavour. The acidity was phenomenal. Madagascan cacao, because of its bright acidity, makes me feel great!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Cocoabean Company

A box of 6 different handmade chocolates from The Cocoabean Company, a family run chocolate factory in Scotland. The founder was said to have started the company with her "passion for chocolate and a background in new product development", which is encouraging and really quite inspiring to me

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Winter Park Chocolate

I was bought these handmade Winter Park chocolates all the way from Florida, and absolutely stunned at that. They came without a menu, so it was going to be a matter of "what flavour can I taste?" and then the more important "do I like it?" (I later found out they do have a Chocolate Guide)

They were fresh chocolates, with a 'best before' of 3-4 weeks