Friday, 23 December 2016

Hummingbird Hispaniola 70%

Hummingbird, who craft chocolate in Almonte, Ontario, Canada; won the Golden Bean award in this year's Academy of Chocolate awards, for their Hispaniola 70%. And so it was kinda the word that this Hispaniola was the BEST bar of 2016. The "best" bar of 2016 is recognised as something else from another chocolate awards, but it's alllllll relative

The aroma acidic, vinegar, cherry wine. The taste is chocolate, red wine, cherries, toasted almond. This chocolate melts smoothly and quickly, which enhances the experience. Cherry jam on toast, so very cherry
The first time I had tried I was underwhelmed, but now it has qualities I really admire. It is balanced, due to a great conche I feel. It's certainly nice, not a standout of 2016 for me, but nice! It took time to get my hands on this bar, everywhere sold out - eventually managed to bypass a waiting list of 100+ people in Toronto

I found the packaging to be unfortunate, inside and out; there was too much going on with many different fonts and images. This, along with the peripheral information is the forgoing of great design. It gives off a European vibe, not in this decade 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Tadzio Vietnam, Venezuela, Brazil, Philippines

Tadzio, a one-bean; two-ingredient chocolate-making operation, taking inspiration from Japanese minimalism in his presentation, has a growing collection of cocoa beans. When life hands you cocoa beans, you make chocolate, when life hands you chocolate, you relish and write ...

Bén Tre, Vietnam 71%
From 2 batches, the second bettered the first. It was smoky, spiced, Bourbon, pecan nut, honey, maple, later came an occasional sharp acidity, but prior to that, it was fantastic with its flavours

Puerto Cabello, Venezuela 71%
A taste of cocoa husk, real-rustic chocolate, spice and marjoram, green notes and rocks. It had a smooth melt. The aroma hadn't been as inviting, but nothing from the aroma gets picked up in flavour. This one is rather chocolate-y! 
Bahia, Brazil
Rainbow Dust yields to roasted coffee. It melts so cleanly, quickly gone. I go back to this one a week later, it's still that lime and Rainbow Dust sherbet, but now it's followed with hazelnut, then raisin, meanders to Cadbury's Brazilian Darkness. Great flavours, and just really quite interesting. I am very familiar with these Brazilian cocoa beans, but not with this flavour profile. This chocolate had the smoothest, coolest and softest melt of Tadzio's collection

South Cotabato, Philippines 73%
Sweet and warming on the nose. Straight away it's toasty, a high roast - these Philippine beans are very small, so "easy to do" says Tadzio in revealing a possible over-roast. With the roasted profile is rich, dark chocolate. And then slowly develops a curry-like aura with fragrant spices. A really lovely chocolate

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Soma Old School

Soma's Old School chocolate range is basically "chocolate as it was back in the day: simple and pure". Cocoa nibs and organic sugar (and milk powder if it's the milk bar) get ground in Soma's vintage melangeur and pressed together. Usually chocolate is further refined, conched and tempered, but not these Old School bars. These bars are designed to have a crumbled, biscuit texture

I cannot remember the DARK Old School cacao origin, but as it tasted of raspberry jam and vanilla, I'm thinking it could be their Madagascar 66%, maybe, just maybe. The bar's texture was like a biscuit (cookie), and you get them sugar crunches

The MILK bar ... just freakin' delicious. It's only 38% cacao, that being Chuao cacao from Venezuela - known as pretty rare cacao - and the rest milk powder and organic sugar crystals. It was sweet, with a taste pretty chocolatey and brownie-like. The texture was again fun

A great creation from Soma!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Risa 70% Bicolandia, 70% & 60% South Cotabato

Risa is a bean to bar chocolate maker in the Philippines. I discovered them at this years Chocolate Show in London, without even a smidge of recognition; it's always exciting to find new makers

The cacao in their chocolate comes from the Philippines, from two regions: Bicolandia and South Cotabato. The ingredients include cacao, sugar, cocoa butter. They also have a "coco" sugar bar which is made with the South Cotabato cacao and coconut sugar! 
The Bicolandia 70% had dill, dairy creaminess, yet a dryness, and sand in the aroma. The taste was coconut, cocoa nib, metallic. A pretty raw, earthy profile overall

Next up, the South Cotabato 70% was demerara sugar and fig on the nose. The taste was caramel, winter spice, brown rice. So rich, especially in comparison to the Bicolandia!
The 60% South Cotabato with Coco Sugar had an aroma of creamy coconut, butterscotch Angel Delight (the bittersweetness of coconut sugar), and buttermilk. The taste was coconut straight away, with then chocolate, coconut milk pudding, butterscotch, oatcakes and sooo digestive biscuits!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Willie's Cacao Milk of the Stars Indonesian 54%

After searching high and low for the NEW Willie's Cacao milk chocolate, yep - I finally found it. Prior to finding it, that same day, I picked up Beavertown's new smoked porter. And what a pairing ...

Aroma is clotted cream, light caramel. On taste it's creamy, and now smokey, in flows chocolate sauce, and finishes with hay. Second go at it, it was Bonnat's Surbaya ... just much, much, much better. It coats the mouth with beautiful smoked cocoa toffee. Each subsequent taste I enjoyed.

A little more Indonesian cacao would have made this chocolate greater; I love the Indonesian 69% dark chocolate of Willie's, so go figure! 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Marou Ben Tre Coconut 58%

A bar I heard great things about, like really great things about; who knew a week later I'd get to try it. It's the first milk chocolate from Marou. Marou being tree-to-bar chocolate made by two French chaps with Vietnamese cacao in Vietnam, the rest is just noise (named provinces in Vietnam)

Ingredients: Ben Tre province cacao, coconut milk, cane sugar, cocoa butter
Coffee at Prufrock, Marou's very special coconut bar lands on the table. Ah!

The aroma was fresh creamed coconut, exotic holidays. The taste always had the coconut, but amongst it was a journey of raspberry jam to cocoa, brightness to comfort

It tasted just like a hybrid of Snowball cakes and jam teacakes (milk chocolate coated) - British biscuit culture galore

The melt was thicker and not as smooth in texture compared to Marou's dark chocolates. It still finishes cleanly, and there was no bitterness at all

It's not quite "only available at Maison Marou" like the packaging states, as this was bought in Bangkok, but it is a rarity. Three extra thoughts: it pairs beautifully with a dark beer, I love the more rustic packaging, it's just really well crafted chocolate with quality ingredients 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Sirene Guatemala 73%

Sirene craft chocolate in Victoria, Canada. They use directly sourced cocoa beans and cane sugar, that's it. For this dark 73%, the Guatemalan cacao comes from the Lachua farm, in the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala
The aroma roasted, liquorice and Sherbet Fountain (British confectionary), oak, walnut skin, pancakes 
The taste was sherbet, lime, sweet - I feel these notes came from the sugar. Raspberry Slush Puppie and raspberry seeds, toasty black, Jammie Dodger coated in chocolate, swiftly moves to a BROWNIE finish. The very finish had black tea leaves, Oolong maybe - something earthy. Tannin bitterness

This 73% was a very smooth chocolate, an even paced melt and good mouthfeel. Impressive

Monday, 31 October 2016

Forever Cacao Coconut Milk 55%

Pablo Picasso, Rothkos, Rilkes. The man behind Forever Cacao, Pablo.

Forever Cacao work with Ecotribal to protect the strains of heirloom Ashaninka cacao. The Ashaninka are indigenous people living in the Peruvian rainforests, and Ecotribal is an organisation that work alongside indigenous communities to promote sustainable livelihoods and rainforest conservation

The Ashaninka cacao, grown by the Ashaninka, is organic Peruvian Criollo beans that Forever Cacao solely uses, along with organic coconut sugar and organic cacao butter

Here is a coconut milk bar
An aroma coconut. Great snap. The chocolate melts so cooly. Taste of dark, rich butterscotch, coconut flakes, subtle notes of coffee and blackcurrants. It's not too sweet, and with a good cocoa hit. I love it
Congratulations to Forever Cacao for winning Silver in the International Chocolate Awards 2016! 

Malmö Kaffekross

Malmö are Swedish chocolate makers, and I don't think I recognised them. I discovered this chocolate at the Chocolate Show, after tasting it from the International Chocolate Awards

The packaging is all in Swedish. The chocolate is made from cocoa beans, cane sugar, milk powder, cocoa butter, coffee and vanilla. I think the sugar is unrefined 
The aroma was a milky coffee. The taste was a chocolate coffee (mocha). My first go at this bar I could taste the cocoa butter (with it also being dominant in the texture), this wasn't good. However, every day afterwards it tasted so good. Chocolate, rich, coffee, grass-fed butter, slowly transitions to the taste of ... Double Decker!!!! 

I appreciate the thiness of the bar. The texture was bitty, with crunches of the sugar throughout; this style surprised me

Overall, I loved the richness

Friday, 21 October 2016

Svenningsen The Nordic Chocolatier Grated 100%

Svenningsen is the Nordic chocolatier who uses Friis-Holm's chocolate. Friis Holm is bean to bar chocolate made in Denmark. Award winning. Many, many, many awards. Svenningsen is new on the chocolate scene and already award winning

Ahhhh, Svenningsen's minimalism, typeface, letter-spacing, word-spacing, balance

The Grated 100% chocolate won gold in the Scandinavian rounds of the International Chocolate Awards 2015 as well as silver in the World rounds

This is a dark chocolate ganache consisting solely of Friis-Holm's La Dalia (Lazy Cocoa Growers Blend) and water. La Dalia is Friis-Holm's chocolate that is a blend of Nicaraguan cocoa beans from 10 different cacao farmers in the La Dalia region of Nicaragua, of whom are named "lazy"

The shell of Svenningsen's chocolate is the 70% La Dalia, and the pure water ganache is the 70% with gratings of 100%. A single nib on top. I just love this minimalism 
It's subtly fruity (darker red fruits) and warming. It is rich, and with a smooth buttery texture that melts cooly. The texture contrast of the hard shell and soft ganache is satisfying. There is a suggestion of salt amidst, but Svenningsen says there is none

The Grated 100% is  i n t e n s e  and feels like  l u x u r y

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Fresco 241 Madagascar 74%

With trial and error, it appears that Fresco have found there to be just one recipe that works best with the Sambirano Valley, Madagascan cacao, and that is recipe no. 214. This is the cacao having been lightly roasted, and the chocolate "medium" conched
The aroma was soft, with cocoa, aniseed and light fruits. The taste was cocoa, fruity, floral, very liquorice, wheat. Very nice and soft. The bite and melt felt brittle, but this happened to be an old bar (check the old style of packaging...)

A new day gave me rubber, smoke, rich acidity, like a Papua New Guinea / Madagascan blend. Overall, an enjoyable bar of American craft chocolate!

A few weeks later I come back to the chocolate, it's liquor filled chocolate coated plums, a flavour with Polish reminiscence

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fruition 100%

Fruition handcraft their chocolate in Shokan, New York. They are one of the major and early chocolate makers, in the world of craft chocolate that is. They are probably responsible for other makers existing, probably ...

... Craft chocolate is captivating and inspiring

This 100% is a blend of Dominican Republic and Peruvian cacao. The particular bar I had was of batch #4, such an early batch meaning probably made a few years back

The aroma was wood, oak cask. The taste was cocoa, wood, lots of wood, raspberry, sweetness, raisin, eccles cake. Each piece highlighted different flavours. Once, unfavourably, I found it to be very bitter and mainly just cocoa. Although my first and general views on this 100% was that it wasn't bitter

This was a smooth 100%, a minimally drying feel on the tongue, although a little tight in the finish. The flavour in the finish was black tea, seriously black tea

Cócó 45% milk & 70% Dark with salt

Cócó are Canadian craft chocolate makers, making their chocolate in very small batches in Kingston, Ontario. Kingston is known as a university city; it's pretty hip, particularly when it comes to its eateries and general vibe (there are a lot of young people)
The 45% milk chocolate was sweet, with coconut, cinnamon, chai and creaminess. It wasn't a smooth melt, with it clogging in the mouth, but overall it felt warming. The ingredients were organic cane sugar, whole milk, organic cocoa butter, organic cocoa mass

It's labelled as a "dark milk", although it is not so dark. Cocoa mass is last on the ingredients list
The 70% dark chocolate had an aroma of coconut and chai, similar notes found in the milk, it was a rich dark chocolate aroma, with little vanilla tones. I would believe this to be the Oko Caribe cacao too, then. Oko Caribe is Dominican Republic cacao

The flavour was coconut, cocoa, floral, very well balanced. It had a simple chocolate flavour. Very rounded. There were nutty and subtle malt notes. It had a slow melt, with the award-winning Achill Island sea salt sparking whenever crunched. The salt was pretty intense. It was nice. It worked best when catching the salt nearing the finish of each bite. Overall, an enjoyable chocolate!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Chocolat Bonnat Surabaya 65% milk

This French-made 65% Indonesian milk chocolate is the third bar I've had of Bonnat's. The first two were not good experiences: the Madagascar 75% then the Haiti 75%. As this milk chocolate had such a high cocoa percentage it sounded very interesting
The aroma was milky, full on creamy. The taste was Dutch-processed cocoa mixed with milk - here you taste the absence of sugar, or I should say "of so much sugar". It tasted of horse's barn, with a mild chocolate backdrop. Melting slowly, with an almost greasy texture but foremost a buttery melt, there came smokiness in taste. A smokiness, although very subtle, that reminds one that this is Indonesian chocolate!
It takes time, but this chocolate becomes pleasing. It has too much cocoa butter in for me. A 65% milk chocolate sounds like a dark milk chocolate, it just wasn't 'dark' enough. The fat content is almost 50%, so having too much begins to feel uncomfortable

This bar is the best Bonnat I've had ... 

Soul Chocolate Papua New Guinea 77%

Soul Chocolate (Soul Roasters), Katie and Kyle, started making chocolate after an accidental encounter with craft chocolate a few years ago in New Zealand. Soul Chocolate is based in Toronto in Canada

The chocolate is said to highlight the origin of the cacao, so this includes all the farmers' input, as well as show the "unique subtleties" that Soul attribute when roasting and refining. This is essentially how all craft chocolate should be made, by respecting the cacao and its flavour, although I point that out here because the articulation from Soul Chocolate is very nice

The aroma smoky and rubber. The taste was smoke, toast, Marmite! A brightness came through later, like all Indonesian dark chocolate I've had. It had notes of speciality jam; that's fancy, rich, red fruit jam

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Olivia Chocolat 76% & Maple

Olivia Chocolat is a chocolate maker in Quebec, Canada. The chocolate is made with fairtrade, organic Peruvian cacao, said to be "Criollo"

bloomed from excessive heat, my bad
The 76% dark chocolate had won silver in the Academy of Chocolate Awards 2011. It had a general 'fruity & nutty' flavour. Throughout it tasted overly acidic, with herbs, carob and bitterness. I thought of it to be pretty off-beat

The ingredients are cocoa beans, sugar cane, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, non-GMO sunflower lecithin - all organic
The Maple variety was the 76% dark chocolate with added maple sugar (and 'natural flavour'). It had the same flavour profile as above, but offered a richness of maple syrup. This chocolate managed to highlight a more tannic feel and taste and green notes (unripeness, grass...)

In life, I love maple syrup. It's all natural, less refined than most sugars, and tastes so good!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Original Beans Edel Weiss 40%

Made with cocoa butter from beans grown in Yuna River Valley, Dominican Republic; this is an organic white chocolate that is without vanilla. Original Beans suggest a flavour profile of banana milk 

The aroma was creamy. It had a soft bite. The mould of this bar was different to Original Beans usual, it had smaller chunks and was more 'ordinary'. The taste was malted milk, golden sugar, Milky Bar yogurt

The Edel Weiss is a nice white chocolate, very creamy and not too sweet (as the raw cane sugar isn't the first ingredient)

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Menakao Madagascar 72%

Menakao 72% became my airplane chocolate, and then my backpack chocolate - something to enjoy from time to time when desired

Menakao is Madagascan-cacao chocolate made in Madagascar. The ingredients are cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, non-GMO soya lecithin 

The aroma was cocoa, lightly vinegar, overall simply chocolate

The taste started cocoa, with red fruits, mainly cherry, with light smokiness and an overlaying cane sugar juice. I noted this chocolate to be very chocolate and sweet. Two weeks later it was raisins and chocolate covered plums, pretty Polish to me

The chocolate felt rustic with its grainy, slow melt

Monday, 22 August 2016

Original Beans Esmeraldas Milk 42%

Arriba cocoa beans from the Esmeraldas rainforests in Ecuador, more specifically the Pacific Cloudforest
The flavour was cocoa rich, milky, fudge, delicious. It had a berry brightness to it, and later online I read "red summer fruit", so that was real

The ingredients are good, and always good with Original Beans: direct-trade cacao beans*, cacao butter*, raw cane sugar*, milk*, fleur de sel - *organic

This 42% milk chocolate is a really good, a really, really, really good milk chocolate. I have had 2 bars of it in a week

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Damson Angel 65%

Not too long ago Damson's kitchen and production space became victim of a fire, resulting in a lot of damage to the already-made chocolate, stock and machinery. Much of it now cannot be sold nor used. There is an online campaign set up by Damson to help raise money to get back on track to making award-winning and the best chocolate they can! Here is the link to find out more: indiegogo Damson Chocolate

The aim is for Damson to come back bigger and better. I hugely admire this mentality, and hope to help and support as much as I can! 

Blends. Something I only discovered recently that I liked, a lot. It makes sense that great beans make great chocolate, but chocolate is personal. And personally, I had always loved the idea of single-origin/estate etc. over blends ... but now, blends have really interested me. And essentially there is skill to getting a good blend
Damson's Angel 65% is a blend. Named Angel after the area of Angel, London, the closest station to Damson. Blends could taste completely different from batch to batch if the ratios of different cacaos vary ... This particular blend I had, incredible
The aroma was perfumed, plums, spiced. This carried onto the taste, with lime, smoothing to an overall chocolatey flavour. It was honey sweet. The melt was smooth, and slow

Friday, 29 July 2016

Dormouse Madagascar 75.6%

Dormouse, small-batch chocolate makers, had won bronze in this year's Academy of Chocolate. This award had been won for their 75.6% Madagascan dark chocolate. The recipe is Madagascan cacao beans, muscovado sugar and cocoa butter
The aroma accentuated different starting notes upon each tasting. Firstly sour, the next was smokey, the next metallic. Overall I would describe it to be sour fruited. Forest and summer fruits, particularly raspberry, macerated in balsamic and apple cider vinegar. There was raisin, treacle and cedar wood too

The taste was roasted, vinegar (high acetic acid, lingers from a crucial process in the fermentation of cacao!), baker's bread. One tasting where the aroma had piquant metallic, it reminded me of a Peruvian small batch I once had, (of RealHonestChocolate...), and I must stress the "piquant", as I enjoyed the chocolate very much by now. The finish was strawberries and general red and black berries with balsamic vinegar, and bamboo leaves

The texture hadn't been as smooth as the 60% dark-milk I recently had of Dormouse's, but then again the refine and conch time was significantly less at 25 hours compared to the 60 hours for the dark-milk

I love the thinness of Dormouse bars. This award-winning Madagascan chocolate was packed of flavour, that brightness and tartness of Madagascan cacao. A chocolate that would have provoked interesting discussion amongst the judges at the Academy of Chocolate

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Pump Street Bakery Jamaica 75%

Jamaica, my first taste of it in terms of chocolate. The Jamaican cacao had been grown on Bachelor's Hall Estate, a 2015 harvest. Along with the cacao is cane sugar and cocoa butter

It's a chocolate on the darker colour spectrum of 'chocolate'
An aroma raisin, malt loaf (raisin laden), fresh milled wholemeal flour dusted on tabletop, cranberry. The taste, on the money Jamaica! Rum. It started with dried currants and cranberries, raisins, flowing in came the rum - some sugar cane bitterness and overall golden flavour... The underlining base note was garibaldi biscuits. The finish lingered golden rum

Oh, that was so real