Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Askinosie 77% Davao, Philippines

76% cocoa liquor, 1% cocoa butter (pressed by Askinosie) and 23% organic cane sugar; my first FILIPINO! chocolate

The aroma had the Askinosie signature, of which is something like marshmallows, sweet coconut, cotton candy (candyfloss), perfumed. It dominated, but the Filipino cacao did give an earthy depth with a touch of citrus
The texture was so smooth. The flavour had 2 differentiated levels, of which were in parallel and with vast space between them. The bottom level was earthy and tannic (astringent on the tongue), and the above was very light and prancy, with citrus and flowers (I thought Violet, Askinosie do actually suggest Lavender). Surprisingly, this chocolate does become quite sour or really sour

Davao is bitter, and that is how the chocolate starts and finishes; however, it is subdued, it is never a sharp bitterness. I had myself once a taste of Bombay mix, but the most memorable (and enjoyable) thing about this chocolate was the tangfastic sour burst
The overall flavour felt too roasted, but I loved the sourness. Though with that sourness, I'd have preferred more sweetness. After all, there is much love for sweet'n'sour in this world

Askinosie chocolate definitely has its own distinct flavour. And I would, without a doubt, be able to spot an Askinosie in a blind tasting

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Dick Taylor 74% Dominican, Finca Elvesia

Despite the Dominican Republic being the most visited destination in the Caribbean, having recently discovered my predilection for its cocoa, going there and doing what the DR people do seems (arbitrarily) a must!

Just organic cacao (from Elvesia plantation) and organic cane sugar. Dick Taylor, finally. Winners of 5 Academy of Chocolate awards this year, one for their packaging but none for this Dominican bar, their chocolate, in all its beauty, has interested me for a long while now. So finally, I have a bar!
The aroma was chocolate ice cream, fruity (red), tobacco, vanilla, earthy. It was possible to find distinct cherry and acidity

The taste started as tea, with tannins and fairly bitter. [melodramatic pause] Fruits and sweetness builds up. This was a slow emergence; you know, if it were a piece of drama - brilliant, but as a piece of chocolate - it was 'bitter' for too long. The fruits (cherry) reached an epic climax and it's this bright acidity, which then dissolves, leaving a coffee and tea leaf (bitter, tannic) finish
Overall this Dominican was fruity, roasted and grassy. It was pretty fun that Oreo™ was in the aroma and taste. From the DR to California to the 57g bar in my hands, this cost £7.95 (Cocoa Runners) and apart from the bitter aspect, which dominated the length, I thoroughly enjoyed its bright cherry profile (lovely acidity) and actually the chocolate confection (i.e ice cream, biscuit) too was enjoyable

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Fresco 219 Papua New Guinea 69%

Cacao beans from a single estate plantation in the Markham River Valley, fermented for 5 days, dried for up to 3 days, shipped to Fresco in Washington, lightly roasted and medium conched, with then cane sugar and cocoa butter thrown into the mix - this bar is recipe no. 219, the first of 4 that Fresco have for the same Papua New Guinea beans

The aroma hit before I intended on testing it. Smoke. There was berry and citrus fruits, it was spiced, dairy and with a woody background
The taste started cocoa with the smoke coming straight after, then opens to a lime'd flavour [but] a lemon acidic kick. It was spiced and oak smoked, with a dash of vinegar. It was not bitter and the texture was smooth
Great chocolate, very sour. For most, I imagine, this 45g bar (£6.95 from Cocoa Runners) would be most appropriate as a 'tasting' chocolate, but I liked it! It has a more summer-feel to it than a winter one. It's fresh and lively, and if it had that caramel note that Willie's' Indonesia had.... "oh yeeah!" -Duffman 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Michel Cluizel Los Anconès 67%

Serenity can be difficult to find. It is fascinating how being in that state, free of stress and anxiety, everything can feel so surreal. You're the stillness amidst chaos

I have an intense interest and enjoyment for chocolate. I love it, but rarely do I come across something that just gets me. To this Los Anconès, it was a cry of: you're kidding me

The aroma was lychee, apricot, honey, a sense of tropical fruits, sweet black olive. There was something sophisticated about this one; it was the vanilla, leather, spice and touch of smoke. The use of "Bourbon" vanilla with single plantation (not just origin!) cacao seems degrading, I believe it to be, but here it smoothed and balanced the flavour
The taste was sweet, a tropical 'fruit salad' (mango etc. cubed) with lots of cherries, and blackcurrant squash. The Rizek family's Los Anconès plantation cacao is a myriad of fruit. Nearing the finish, a toasted flavour passes over to then let the fruit and chocolatey flavours linger 

I'll admit that sometimes it was too buttery in taste and sometimes in texture, but oh wow - how delicate, yet powerful, it was 

So yes, serenity, it can be difficult to find, but honestly, not for me. I seek it whenever I want. And it just so happens I always achieve such a state before, during and after I have chocolate 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pacari 70% Piura Quemazón

Pacari are 100% organic, single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Ecuador. The Piura Quemazón is Pacari's first chocolate made from cacao sourced from outside of Ecuador. This 50g bar was made from Nacional (Arriba) beans from the Peruvian region of Piura (north-west Peru), cane sugar, cocoa butter and sunflower lecithin
high sunlight exposure
I have had chocolate made from cacao from La Quemazón before, though it was specifically said to be the Porcelana bean. But checking the light, milk chocolate colour of this chocolate and its aroma ... it seems the geographical location of La Quemazón is vastly influential, as this Nacional and that Porcelana I once had are very similar

The aroma was green, very fresh, citrus, a little sherbet, leather, yellow plum and a faint catch of chocolate. The taste was initially cocoa, with then: greenery, tannin, toffee (yum) and toastiness, then slowly came out vinegar and lots of acidity! It was very creamy and so was the texture. There was dill and gherkin too, it reminded me of Madécasse's 80% (Madagascar). In the distant finish was a very fresh, lively coffee
Piura has wowed me yet again! Pacari's Piura Quemazón was super enjoyable. Although it is definitely the northernly-west Peruvian cacao I enjoy, as Pacari had executed it so well (roast, texture - these guys know how to work good beans) I would love to try more from them

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Doble & Bignall

The craft chocolate revolution is pretty much alive in the UK. It has excited and entertained myself and many others; it has inspired myself and few others - to do it themselves, from the bean! Doble & Bignall rode the wave (think: 'new wave chocolate' #boom) in the summer of 2013, after listening to a Radio 4 programme on making chocolate from the bean

Doble & Bignall craft their chocolate in micro-batches in Gloucestershire, mixing their beans with cane sugar and cocoa butter
Raven Johe, Nicaragua 72%
This cocoa had grown in the Jinotega region in the northern mountains of Nicaragua. The colour was a brighter, more chocolate brown than the Venezuela. Trying to get the aroma of this chocolate felt like I was behind double-glazed windows. It was always 'chocolate', but I occasionally captured  smoke, spice, leather, nutty, malted milk (Horlicks®); it was sweet and all delicate

Straight on the tongue there was ash and a super juicy acidity (mineral acidity - Jinotega has very rich soils!). There was a berry buzz - so fresh and tangy, greenery and a taste of burnt/blackened toast. This Raven was all 'silent but deadly': quiet aroma, loud taste!

Raven Puerto Cabello, 72% Venezuela
Made from Cabello cocoa beans from the Mantuano region of Venezuela. The aroma was piss, spice, excrement, floral - it actually smelt of a Mr Bean rub-and-sniff sticker collection I had years ago

The taste was coffee, coconut water, heavy roast, something fruity and then the bitter coffee finished. My third and final attempt at this chocolate was actually very pleasant (it wasn't distinctly coffee nor coconut like before), though I still wasn't hot on the roast 

Tawny Owl Tierra Oscura, 50% Panama (milk)
An aroma so buttered fruit scone (made with 50/50 flour), quite creamy/milky. The taste was a less satisfying wheat taste, and a sudden tight bitterness (very astringent) but then after awhile dried fruits, some lactic acidity and pure butter came out

Tawny Owl Puerto Cabello, 50% Venezuela (milk)
Made from the same beans as the Venezuelan Raven. The aroma was very creamy, quite like a white chocolate. The taste was delicate, there was a flicker of liquorice and toasted oats and vanilla cheesecake. A very easy to eat chocolate, quite delicious!

Smelling its wrapper after the chocolate had gone, it was so cheesy and kinda like puke, but 12 hours later it was caramelised white chocolate

Out of these 4 chocolates Doble & Bignall craft, my favourites were the Venezuelan milk Puerto Cabello and the Nicaragua 72! This Nicaraguan Raven had that kind of kickin' acidity that I just LOVE in chocolate