Sunday 22 February 2015

Willie's Cacao Madagascan Gold Sambirano 71

Another chocolate made from Sambirano cacao. First with Domori and then with this, and also being able to taste the Rózsavölgyi and The Chocolate Tree again, it is proving to be some product development research for me (but really, actually heartening to find that I make chocolate that I love)
The aroma had me in a forest, it was toast, spice: cracked pepper, chilli; prune, forest fruits, orange blossom, wood shavings, malt, tree sap, Marmite. The wooded profile dominated the fruitiness (and bare in mind it wasn't greatly fruity)

On the tongue was a juicy acidity, with firstly a heavy roast but then berries rounding it: strawberry. There was also pineapple, the occasional sour hit (loved!) and raisin

The finish was slightly bitter and with some astringency
Tasting again right after the Sambirano chocolate I made: it was alkalised cocoa and wood. But once my mouth became more familiar again, there came the acidity and fruits

It is good chocolate with great acidity (think raspberry and sour cherry!), though I was not so hot on the earthed/wood profile. And it's just SO roasted 

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Domori Sambirano Madagascar 70

picture from chocolatetradingco
This Madagascar is made from the same region my cocoa beans are from: Sambirano

The chocolate had a surprising roasted aroma, not fruity, there was rich chocolate, slightly metallic, and ... butterscotch
The texture was sensationally smooth, but I expected no less from Domori. The taste was chocolate, roasted, hazelnut and almond, a slight sourness at the back. I recognised a 'Feast' ice cream. This chocolate was creamy in taste and, as you can tell by my Feast analogy, it was not that sophisticated. The finish had me thinking of a particular coconut and cherry moist biscuit (if I really have had such thing) with a taint of coffee
I don't mean to sound boastful, but I think I achieved a better flavour with these cocoa beans ...

Thursday 12 February 2015


Ingredients: cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla

Toscano Black 63%
The Toscano Black range is made from a blend of Trinitario and Criollo beans. The aroma was chocolatey, some acidity. The taste was smoked tobacco, hazelnut, Italian chocolate

Blanco de Criollo
A Peruvian Criollo bean blend. It had the classic Peruvian acidity, which yielded to a robust wild mushroom (oh wow, authentic). There was chocolate too and overall it was very mellow

Finally, chocolate from Grenada - only my 3rd Caribbean cocoa (if I include the Venezuelan Rio Caribe). It had a chocolatey and floral nose. The taste was coffee (mocha) and coconut

n.b. having only one each of these napolitains (small square tablets-intended to be served with a cup of coffee) meant that I could not sufficiently pick up each nuance, but I imagine each in bar form offers up so much more. For example, the Blanco de Criollo was said to have dried plums and toasted almonds 

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Willie's Cacao Indonesian Gold Java 69

From my few trips to the far eastern-hemisphere at Java (vicariously through chocolate) I have learnt many things about the island, such as it being formed mostly as a result of volcanic eruptions and more importantly the characteristics of its cocoa! Its characteristics include a nice acidity but predominantly it is smoke and rubber, which are NOT flavours I am fond of. However, as Domori had aggrandised Javanese cocoa for me with their JavaBlond, it was not impossible that Willie's Cacao couldn't do the same, with cacao from Surabaya
The aroma was smoke and ham, not nice. Hammy flavour in cacao correlates with drying the beans over wood fires, ("regions that harvest a lot of cacao during the rainy seasons must use artificial drying methods to decrease moisture" = Java!). There was a little plum and citrus, VERY chocolatey. Looking beyond the rubber and smoke was such sweetness: a sweet fermentation, BBQ ribs, vinegar, but earth and bark too

In the mouth this chocolate was incredibly smooth. With my first bar (experienced during the day) I noticed smoke and rubber, then actual caramel and THEN this unbelievable acidity! Oh wow. And then with my second bar (experienced at night), vinegar just poured out. It was so acidic, there was chocolate at the back with that not-so-nice rubber, and there too was caramel, but not as authentic as before, maybe because I had picked up on a salty touch. The smokey note this time was seriously desirable

*update* - a touch of horse hay in the taste

There was a puckering feel in the finish, with flavours of cacao, the vinegar lingering and minerals (I thought sand). The finish was slightly anti-climatic, but only because you are left wanting more. God this chocolate is good

Initially I did not enjoy this Java but when I got in to it, I really got into it. I was completely in awe of this Indonesian, in particular during my second experience. I think night time, darkness, no distractions, is the optimum time to have real chocolate

*update 9.5.15* this chocolate is incredibly roasted

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Chocolat Bonnat Madagascar 75%

I bought this chocolate when in Nice, and I chose it because Bonnat is a highly acclaimed French chocolate manufacturer (making bean-to-bar) and because it was made with beans associated with fruitiness - Madagascar! Bonnat make their chocolate bars with more cocoa butter than sugar, which creates the 'traditional' style, but this style is one that I am not so keen on. I like smoothness, but not so much when it becomes a buttery texture and impacts on the flavour - and especially when compared to the rustic style of craft chocolate
The aroma was cream crackers, nothing more. The taste was bran-flakes, toasty, cocoa in water (dutch-processed), buttery. This chocolate was so, so, so buttery - taste and texture, and lacked complexity. Its taste reminided me of a couverture brownie, it lacked that intense 'chocolate' edge
With my third approach at this bar, I did actually sense some acidity. It was only really in the aroma, a little in the taste, however it was not enough to be fruity or give a more prominent flavour. I am convinced this chocolate bar was just an unfortunate bar (a poorer harvest), as I have seen only positive critiques of this Madagascar, and it's been said to be very fruity. Though, if it had been fruity I still don't know whether I would have enjoyed it ... as it was far too buttery. Bonnat, although creamy and mellow, didn't seem to have Cluizel's or Domori's finesse in velvety smoothness

Monday 2 February 2015

Hotel Chocolat Rabot 1745 Venezuela Chuao 70%

The eponymous cacao of Chuao is amongst the rare. Defined by its geographical location, around 20 tonnes of pure Chuao is annually cropped by the village's cooperative farmers. The beans are then fermented and dried in front of the village church. "Chuao" isn't so much the in-thing like it once was, but it still is one of the purer cocoas you will find

The aroma was quite muffled. There was chilli spice, bark, something sour and acidic (which was gherkin), tobacco and almond. It was like a hybrid between Hotel Chocolat's Java milk and Madécasse's 80%
The taste was savoury-sour, really unusual. It was heavy gherkin then with a sweet juniper (gin). It had an incredibly strong roast, and also malt vinegar with a malted finish
This Chuao was all fermentation and roast, but I was not impressed. When compared to all the raving reviews of Chuao chocolate, I just didn't think Hotel Chocolat had done this Venezuelan cacao justice. However, when I had expressed this opinion, in agreement, I was told that Chuao for a few years now has been "bland" and "uninteresting"