Sunday 28 June 2015

Pitch Dark Fiji 73%

These cocoa beans are from the Namau village in Fiji, and Pitch Dark is the only maker currently producing chocolate with them. Pitch Dark are Portland, Oregon chocolate crafters, "combining proven old-world methods with new and innovative technology, [doing their] best to highlight the character and personality of [their] handpicked single origin cocoa beans"

... and all the way around here... FIJI. You can't get any further away before you start coming back. (The Truman Show)
An aroma so dill (the herb), little soured and very earthy/dark. The taste was bitter, cocoa, dark roast, then comes the sweetness amongst it all. A very dark, rich tasting chocolate, pretty smoky too! There was a warmly welcomed honey and creamed coffee nearing the finish, but it's the bitter roast that finishes. In one piece I actually found the dill in taste too 

The packaging is very cool. This 52.7g bar was £7.95 from Cocoa Runners (pricey), but $7 (£4.45) if bought in Portland, USA. The origin of Fiji is unique, I chose because it would be an interesting bar for me. There was an element I liked about this bar (the sweetness amongst cocoa and how it was just CHOCOLATE), but the heavy roasted flavour wasn't to my taste

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Damson Trinidad 60% Buffalo Milk

Damson Chocolate, probably the most exciting and highly anticipated chocolate that this year has gifted true chocolate aficionados (like myself)! 

Co-founder Dom sparked my keen interest in chocolate (via Chocablog) and has encouraged my blogging, making and overall interest ever since. To see him making bean to bar and winning awards for it is truly inspiring and just plain admirable! Unlike many other makers, he had immense passion for chocolate prior to making it. Some people say not to mix work with pleasure, but truly I think it's make your passion your profession. And Dom has seriously proved the latter to be one hell of a life!!! 
The cocoa beans are from Robson Estate in Trinidad, the buffalo whole milk from Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire and there's a touch of Halen Môn Anglesey vanilla sea salt. This transparency of ingredients is something I love, because it shows the makers' reverence but also because it adds a story and character to the chocolate, enhancing the sensory and overall cognitive experience (this goes for anything not-chocolate too!) The chocolate contains added cocoa butter and sunflower lecithin too
The aroma was very sherbet, creamy, a distinct acidity, leather and vanilla. The taste started with icing sugar, then a darker cocoa flavour and rich creaminess come through. I then got the "Turkish delight" suggested by Damson, chocolate, nuttiness, slight wood, and few times a subtle hinting towards the salt (though not a salty flavour)- but once there was a crunch of salt, of which bursted its flavour! The Turkish delight's dusted icing finishes the chocolate

A creamy texture and great snap. One would never suspect that there were issues with the tempering of this bad boy. Overall, a rich and interesting chocolate! (and probably irresistible fresh out the wet stone grinder ... *heart-eye emoji*) 

Monday 22 June 2015

Cacaosuyo Piura Select

Cacaosuyo are Peruvian, distinctly not bean to bar but, tree to bar makers. They do not buy beans but select the trees where their cocoa fruit will be harvested, which confirms traceability and cacao type. They then supervise the harvest and when ready Cacaosuyo begin the fermentation process. This particular bar was made from organic white cacao beans from the Piura region of Peru. The 70g bar was £6.95 from Cocoa Runners. Cacaosuyo suggested I should come and visit them, why thank you
The aroma was acidy, black tea, green/earthy, a real dark depth to it, blackberry, prune and mango. At first I didn't pick up on the acid, but really it was so conspicuous. My God, it smells like chocolate in a wild, mineral-rich-soiled forest 

The taste was bitter, with then slowly a sweetness pouring in amongst 'cocoa' and earthen flavours. It then opened up tangy citrus notes and all those found in the aroma (listed above) and eventually came a chocolate flavour too. It was very chocolatey, contrary to what C-Spot suggested (a low CQ: chocolate quotient) 

SECOND BAR (6-7.12.2015) the taste was so fudge-y and liquorice WOW WOW WOW. The texture was softer

The texture was suede verging on sandy, far far from what other chocolate makers aspire to. Cacaosuyo do not add cocoa butter

At first I was not impressed, but it really grew on me. It felt like old-school chocolate. For example, if it were a blind tasting, I'd have thought this was the epitome of micro-batch craft chocolate. It reminded me of my own bean to bar chocolate, in that it had this 'down to earth' vibe, with its brazen texture and temper and its "no chill" flavour, of which is very acidic (a trait I love), thus separating itself from the silky smooth and more perfected flavour that chocolate makers who make 'bean to bar' tend to achieve. This is of course all down to the chocolate maker's preference; I am in no way degrading this approach of 'perfection'! Whatever it takes to make great chocolate - I'm in. The juxtaposition was to understand how 'old-school' this Piura Select really was...

I enjoyed this bar and so did many others, I was even told it was "one of the best bean to bar chocolates in the world"

Thursday 18 June 2015

Pump Street Bakery Rye Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt

An Academy of Chocolate gold award winner. A dark-milk bean-to-bar chocolate, with added breadcrumbs (wheat, rye, sourdough starter, sea salt) and sea salt, handcrafted in Orford

I made the trip to Orford just to visit Pump Street Bakery. There I was, a Sunday morning, with the sun shining, enjoying their pain au chocolat (made with their own Ecuadorian chocolate) and a Monmouth coffee: picture it
The aroma was delicious. It was very dairy: creamy, lactic; there too was nuttiness and wheat and freshly baked bread. Straight on the tongue it was soft, but once the melt kicked in it's an unexpected rough, gritty texture (the bread crumbs)

The taste was creamy. It lacked sweetness, despite it being a 60% milk chocolate, the rye savouriness dominated. The salt would come through occasionally, striking a sweetness. I loved that, though sometimes a salty taste would linger

I kept thinking 'this tastes like something / what does this remind me of?' Well, I thought maybe Milka Daim® as it had that crunchy texture and because the chocolate had a burnt caramel flavour, but it was also like Ritz/Tuc crackers, if they had been crushed and melted in chocolate!

The finish was somewhat savoury/wheaty, almost bitter with mild chocolate notes
I understand why this chocolate received a lot of attention. Pump Street Bakery are fine bakers, and so it's great to see them being so hands on with chocolate too. This particular bar had its cocoa sourced from Hacienda Limon, Ecuador 

£5.80 for 70g, this pricing is consistent with their other bars apart from the other one I bought: the limited edition Grenada! Stay tuned for my review of that bar. Overall, an enjoyable chocolate: chocolate + flavoursome bread/lightly salted crackers = pretty awesome

Friday 12 June 2015

Zotter Labooko Congo 68%

As Africa, regarding its cocoa, is associated with "bulk cocoa", when an African country gives its name to a single origin chocolate bar, I can understand why some may be skeptical

Zotter does a 17 hour conche for these Congo beans, of which derive from a 1km altitude, adding raw cane sugar, cocoa butter and a touch of salt
The aroma was roasted, smoked, blackberry, blueberry, sour, a familiar weirdness (I always think this particular smell in chocolate is piss), spiced, a little bit nutty

The mouth texture was satin, beautifully smooth, though occasionally maybe too buttery. The flavour started roasted and smokey, opening up the sweetness (of which resonates from now on), blueberry, sourness bursts in, the roast lingers and finishes, the finish is very clean. This structure was consistent, the middle flavours making me think 'a dark chocolate, blueberry, Greek yogurt/sour cream smoothie' - distinctly that sourness to it. There is a taste of banana along with the creaminess of banana present

UPDATE 27.7 - the flavour was predominately *chocolate* 

An impressive chocolate from these highland cocoa beans, the microclimate may have done them wonders

Piquant and tangy: if, like me, that's what you're in to, then you'd really enjoy this chocolate. One thing I didn't like was the heavy roast, but Zotter is an excellent chocolate maker so thankfully the roast didn't distract away from the wonderful flavour of the beans (unlike Willie's chocolate often does...)

Friday 5 June 2015

Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club: Milk & Dark

This review condenses 3 boxes of Hotel Chocolat's Tasting Club into one. Two 'Milk' boxes and one 'Dark'. Below are my thoughts, mainly in note form, of the chocolates I received. There were a few of the same chocolates across two of the boxes (I think 5 in total?) and some chocolates were in two different coatings (I typically favoured the version that was NOT in dark)

tl;dr I would have the Milk selection box over the Dark any day, but wish the Milk had included alcoholic chocolates too! - I have had better quality chocolates, but a fun experience nonetheless. 78 chocolates + 18 batons!