Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Menakao 63% Combava & Pink Pepper

Cacao took a long journey before landing on Madagascan grounds. From the origin (South America) it was brought to the Philippines, en route to Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Réunion and then finally the red island of Madagascar (estimated journey)

Menakao use cocoa beans that are organic (though not certified) from the Millot plantation of the Sambirano Valley. Archival documents from this plantation say that the first cacao trees Millot planted (near to 100 years ago) were grafts from Java, specifically the city of Bogor

Menakao use cane sugar from the Menabe region, grown southwards 1.5km from the cocoa! And they are one of two Madagascan bean-to-bar companies (the other being Madécasse)
The aroma was strikingly Turkish delight, ever so floral, peppery, basil (it reminded me of Rococo's basil & lime dark chocolate), lemongrass and something sweet & acetic like balsamic vinegar

On the tongue the floral rose was the drone with the spiced pepper as the high note. The Madagascan chocolate was exceptionally red, very bright - though it was only perceptible when it would overcome the pink pepper. I had a taste of Thai green curry few times (lemongrass)
The depth of this chocolate (as in the mould's thickness) was probably the best I've had. I really loved it. The chocolate itself was nice. The way the Madagascan fruitiness would come out was superb. Some may think the aroma/flavour to be a little too 1950s Hollywood dressing-room glamour (perfumed), but I love Turkish delight so I fared well. Though, I'm not one for pepper in chocolate ...

Friday, 27 March 2015

Pralus Papouasie 75

An interesting fact: Papua New Guinea (the eastern half of the island New Guinea) is independent from Indonesia

Pralus has a dark reputation for roasting. Heavy roasting isn't something I am a fan of (Willie's Cacao comes to mind) - so I wondered how I would fare with Pralus, who is considered the deepest chocolate roaster

Heavy roasting, to me, seems like the action one takes when one has a cacao, what T.S Eliot had said in regards to Hamlet, "full of some stuff that the writer could not drag to light, contemplate, or manipulate into art.” But I guess the proof of good chocolate is in the pudding tasting. Pralus, unlike many chocolate makers, are knowledgeable (they too have a cocoa plantation in Madagascar), so maybe in their roasts is an art, opposed to just a signature (think Mast Bros, they could not possibly smoothen their texture now - brittle/roughness is their signature)
The aroma was a bbq picnic in the woods: smoked (first thoughts: pork, and Polish Oscypek cheese, but probably more a smoked Gouda), blackberry, chilli roasted nuts, dark chocolate, wood shavings and somewhat floral. It was buttery and deep fruited sweetness

The flavour was smokey, cocoa, blackberry, spice (sweet), forest fruits, and an overall sweetness. This was a very easy-to-eat chocolate, surprising, when considering the influences (Pralus' roast, PNG volcanic soils, PNG drying techniques) 
many bubbles
I am fond of Willie's Indonesian (Java 69), and I know I cannot compare the two chocolates (too many variables) but I did anyway. The Papouasie was less smoky, more nuanced, softer on the palate

Monday, 23 March 2015

Willie's Cacao Luscious Orange, Cafe Negro & Ginger Lime

Although American craft chocolate maker Patric's blood orange bar seemed one to lust over, chocolate and orange is a pairing I always disdain. I ended up with this orange chocolate because I went a little trigger-happy with Willie's Cacao recently (I bought these two bars, the Cuban Black 100%, the Peruvian, IndonesianMilk of the Gods & El Blanco again, and was given the Ginger Lime)

Friday, 20 March 2015

Madécasse Espresso Bean

A creamy, 44% Madagascan dark milk chocolate with ground Arabica coffee and cocoa nib crunches

The aroma was fresh brewed v60 coffee bloom, or the espresso crema - with fresh cream; it was incredibly soft, smooth and creamy
The first taste was coffee then came caramel-ly chocolate. It was milky and with a salt-enhanced sweetness. I feel that the salt was unnecessary as the taste was 'too sweet'. But before that enhanced sweetness it was flavours of relaxed atmospherics and great beauty. Chewing the chocolate: there was bright, fruity acidity and fermentation, the nibs added a satisfying crunch and gave an acidic/metallic taste. The finish was sweet, coffee and fruity
There was surprisingly some cocoa bean shell scattered on the chocolate, I first noticed in texture but I could actually see it. The coffee had strawberry notes, really quite juicy. The chocolate, being Madagascan, had a little sourness after the caramel flavour

Apart from the intensified sweetness by the salt, I absolutely loved this chocolate and I 100% recommend!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Chocolate Society Madagascar 75

^pic: Selfridges.com
The Chocolate Society use Valrhona chocolate, and do not supplement any of their "high quality chocolate with cheaper Belgian Callebaut chocolate". They are chocolatiers, not chocolate makers; and so I personally wouldn't have bought a chocolate bar from them. I only like paying for bean to bar chocolate. However, as I had been gifted this bar I am not complaining! (especially as it was bought for £6.99! - Selfridges do some serious markups on chocolate)
The ingredients were: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin & natural vanilla extract. Valrhona make a Madagascan chocolate (Manjari) at 64% but not a 75%, so I am curious as to how this chocolate has been made. Could the Choc Society have used Valrhona's 100% Manjari? Surely not as that would have required refining of the sugar particles. This is all too ambiguous for me, but I presume this is just unadulterated Valrhona chocolate (as in the Chocolate Society melted Valrhona chocolate and set it into their classy moulds)

Anyway, the aroma was nutty, cocoa, sharp red/dark berry, metallic and spice

The taste started cocoa and bitter, with vanilla then slightly fruity with a toasty finish. Going for more I found it became more complex. A vibrant acidity, heavier red fruits, red wine, pecan nut and still that toasty finish

I thought this chocolate had too much "cocoa" (alkalised) flavour, it seemed more a chocolate I would use for a dessert/bake, as it didn't have that sense of sacrosanct, like with craft, bean to bar chocolate. I liked the appearance very much, but I think The Chocolate Society are more about their fine artisan chocolates! However, I imagine this chocolate would appeal to the mass market as it is, after all, origin

Monday, 16 March 2015

Zotter Mitzi Blue Coffee-Malt

"Oh wow" was my brother's and my reaction to this chocolate, we knew it was good

This was a coffee milk chocolate disk with a grain coffee (substitute coffee: rye, chicory, barley, acorns & figs) 'Mini Mitzi' lighter coloured disk! All ingredients (but salt) were organic and the cocoa, raw cane & whole cane sugar, and the real coffees were Fairtrade
The smell was creamy cappuccino, mocha and so dreamy. And the Mini disk had a malted touch, slightly artificial on the coffee spectrum, it had me thinking of Ovaltine

The taste was creamy, mocha, a rush of caramel. Again, it was so dreamy. The Mini Mitzi (smaller disk) tasted of cinnamon and gingerbread with malt and caramel. Going from the Mini grain coffee disk to the coffee chocolate brought bitterness to the palate

Although I only chewed this chocolate, its texture was smooth and the Mini was softer
I am a Zotter enthusiast, I love his bean-to-bar, fun, organic chocolate! I thought this chocolate was so relaxing and the cinnamon made it so warm. The grain coffee chocolate was inferior to the real coffee chocolate, but it still was lovely

Monday, 9 March 2015

Paul A Young 63% Madagascar

Madagascan cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, GMO-free soy lecithin

An aroma quite chocolatey, thread of liquorice, blackcurrant, acidity/metal, foliage, gin, leather, vanilla, hazelnut and juicy pineapple!
The taste was hazelnut, then chocolate came through, washing-up liquid...., sugar, now it's lime washing-up liquid. And then nearing and in the finish was a little taste of soy. The taste hadn't convinced me

The aroma was exceptional, but I'm not too sure what happened with the flavour. That's a shame because Paul's Madagascan whole bean 64% was wicked! I liked this 4 piece mould though

Friday, 6 March 2015

Tobago Estate 70%

^image from Cocoa Runners^
Cocoa beans from the Tobago Cocoa Estate W.I. Ltd are sent to Pralus (Lyon, France) who then adds unrefined cane sugar, cocoa butter and GMO-free soy lecithin to craft in "small batches" this chocolate. It is a reasonably expensive bar - £7.95 for 100g - with a very limited distribution! Check Cocoa Runners, though now as Cocoa Runners are offering a different harvest, this may mean my review may not be completely reliable as I think the chocolate I have is the 7th/2013 harvest from the Tobago Cocoa Estate (it won 2 stars from Great Taste 2013 and Academy of Silver 2013)
The aroma was unusual, like really sweet pee, over-ripe tropical juices (distinctly pineapple) and spicy chilli accompanied with leather, blackberry, toastiness and malt 
The texture in the mouth was smooth like butter. The taste was toasted, wood (oak) then boom: whisky. There was cocoa, a rich creaminess, spice, green banana, brown sugar, pineapple (without the acidity). Not bad - but there was a taste of soy, specifically soy sauce, which isn't something I want in chocolate. There was a spiced sensation on the tongue (enhancing the whisky and chilli vibe) but overall it was incredibly creamy

I know a guy who thought this chocolate (of this harvest) was excellent, like quite literally unbeatable. It's a shame I didn't feel quite the same as he did ...

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Marou Treasure Island

This 75% Vietnamese cacao chocolate bar came in my Cocoa Runners box a while back. It is made from cocoa from various farms on the Tan Phu Dong Island

I loved Marou's Ba Ria 76 so much, and it was the 2nd small batch, single origin, craft chocolate I had had! I look back so fondly upon it
The aroma, nonpareil. Honey drizzled in rooibos tea and stewed plums, orange blossoms, ***cinnamon*** spice, almond nougat, milky, vanilla and wood. There was a sweet sweet sweetness seeping through which revealed itself to be liquorice root. Ethereal 

The taste, au contraire. Cocoa, opening up to a roasted profile: loose tobacco, still the rooibos tea, and wood. The taste felt like: (   .   ) - almost like it was in the middle of a void. I feel there was too much added cocoa butter. A loss of the true flavour of the cacao! It is a shame because this cacao was phenomenal and the added cocoa butter subdued it

The rooibos built up and then the cocoa finished. I think cocoa in red bush tea would be very nice. This chocolate only fell short of perfection due to its lost taste, but its aroma was beautiful