Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Original Beans Piura Porcelana

The Porcelana, considered the Holy Grail of cacao, is a pure Criollo species, possibly the purest, and is prized for its delicacy. It is amongst the rarest and most expensive of all beans around the world. The Porcelana pods are unique due to their white/light colouring (they lack the flavonoid anthocyanin which contributes to the purple colouring)

In Peru, this "forgotten" cacao was discovered and, after near extinction, was brought back into production by Original Beans who worked with the local farmers. Original Beans' sustainable proposition of "one bar plants one tree" has meant they've planted over 1 million trees in the rainforest. Porcelana cocoa has not been found anywhere else in Peru other than La Quemazón (a village in the Piura Region). The cocoa farmers of La Quemazón are proud of their white cacao and ensure quality control to maintain their cacao in the fine chocolate market

Original Beans Piura Porcelana was of 75% cocoa solids made with direct trade Porcelana beans (from La Quemazón), organic and Fairtrade cocoa butter and organic cane sugar. The chocolate had outsourced its manufacture by chocolate maker Felchlin (Swiss company). My 70g bar had broken up in the packaging and was a little scuffed. It was of the lighter brown spectrum and had a medium snap

I breathed in a perfume of potent vanilla, yellow plum, leather and cream. The flavour opened with a bitter cocoa and sweetened up with a low acidity. There was such an authentic raspberry note, it was really quite unbelievable. The raspberry flavour wasn't always there, and when it wasn't I would [unsuccessfully] try to find it. It did always make itself present in the finish though. The chocolate overall was soft in flavours with a creaminess. There were hints of lightly toasted pecan, and along with the raspberry and a marscapone it created a dessert-like finish. The texture in the mouth was exceptionally smooth

This delicate Porcelana cacao truly is white gold, and La Quemazón is the goldmine that domesticates it. I did enjoy and appreciate this chocolate but I didn't quite feel it on a spiritual level like I have done in the past with other fine cocoas. I have a thing for acidity in chocolate and this chocolate was a little too gentle. I really did love the authenticity of that raspberry though, it was tart though creamy and quite sensational. That trait alone made this Piura Porcelana the James Dean of chocolate. Initially shy, gives an unpredictable yet talented and inspirational performance (the raspberry = "you're tearing me apart"). But the chocolate as a whole, as I didn't emotionally feel it, sadly wasn't the Jimmy Dean of chocolate (i'm a big fan of James Dean by the way!)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Zotter Labooko Milk Santo Domingo 40%

This Zotter chocolate had a healthy cocoa % for milk chocolate. It had a considerably high cocoa butter ratio, with the Santo Domingo cocoa being less than 21% which overall suggested a weaker cocoa/chocolate flavour one would expect from a 40%

The milk chocolate contained salt and vanilla. All ingredients, but salt, were organic and majority were Fairtrade. The Hispaniola beans were noted, by Zotter, to be "particularly mild" and had been mildly roasted with a short conche time

The chocolate smelt goood. It was incredibly creamy with a lime acidity. Cocoa and sweet caramel were also recognised. The flavour was similar. It was again immensely creamy, with a mild chocolate flavour which was then surpassed by a very distinctive milk, almost like sour milk (most likely the lime cutting through the heavy creaminess)

The chocolate had soft flavours, in particular a very soft chocolate flavour. The mild cocoa, mild roast and short conche are apparent. The texture in the mouth was smooth and had a clean chew (this is excellent with milk chocolate). The snap and texture was hard. The salt nor vanilla were tasted which simply showed that they were used to enhance the flavour of the chocolate, not to add flavour

Thank you Chocablog for this chocolate. For 70g (2x35g bars), this chocolate can be bought here for £3.95

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Chocolate Tree Ecuador 84%

84% Ecuadorian cocoa beans and the rest cane sugar. Without any extra cocoa butter, it simply meant the cocoa was purely Ecuadorian! I loved this, though it did suggest a slight hinderance of a potentially smoother texture

The Chocolate Tree, for their Ecuadorian bars, have sourced fine cacao from their partner Golden Bean. This single estate Sabor Arriba is rare and real. It's far from the imitating CCN-51 (a strain designed for yield opposed to flavour) of which often masquerades itself as "Arriba/Nacional" on single origin Ecuadorian chocolate - so don't be fooled. But like I said, this chocolate is truly Arriba. The Chocolate Tree work directly with organic farmers, paying them considerably higher than the going rate for cocoa, this encourages the growers to care for their heirloom cacao as well as sustaining biodiversity and fine flavour chocolate

A bold aroma. It initially had that alcoholic/urine tone, which I refined such description to Narcissus "paperwhite" flower. A flower with a concentrated aroma. The chocolate was heavy with prune and red wine, hints of date syrup, grape and earth. There was a delicate buzz of citrus orange which brought honey to the nose too

The snap gave a little *click* sound. The taste opened with cocoa, and then the prune/red wine/earthy notes from aroma could be tasted along with wood. I loved when a fruitiness/acidity could be tasted and felt on the tongue, though rare, it really refreshed the cocoa 'bitterness'. A deep roast was tasted too

The texture wasn't completely smooth, but considering there was no extra butter it was well refined and tempered. The long finish was cork, tannin, astringent, mildly sour with fragrant raisin being the very last note

I appreciate this fine chocolate for the extremely high quality it is. It had the characterises of true Nacional (Arriba) bean. Although there were a number of fruity notes, I personally would not consider it to be fruity. It was some great chocolate, but the flavour just wasn't the flavour I desire when it comes to cocoa. I had a preference for The Chocolate Tree's Madagascan bar

£5.95 for 90g can be purchased here 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cachet Vanuatu 44% Milk Chocolate

When it comes to origin chocolate, Cachet isn't anything special. In my eyes, the fact that they do not make their chocolate from the bean reduces its appeal. I guess if it's good cocoa, it's good cocoa. But in chocolate making, it's said that every step is the most important step and for Cachet to work from cocoa liquor simply seems like an attempt to keep up with the fashion, to attract those uninitiated in fine cocoa chocolate, stick an origin on the packaging and make consumers believe they're having fine cocoa chocolate

The cocoa of Vanuatu thrives in the nutritious volcanic soil, so experiencing Vanuatuan chocolate sounded more than interesting. However, with sugar being the first ingredient, the vanilla flavouring, the 20% milk solids, the generic cocoa butter (sitting second on the list), and only <20% Vanuatuan cocoa mass... I didn't think I'd quite experience Vanuatu chocolate how I'd have liked to

The aroma was predominately chocolate with a nuttiness, distinctly coconut. The taste was chocolate with a caramel sweetness. Straight away there was a taste of salt, as if it was salted caramel - I found this in Cachet's Madagascar milk chocolate too. The sugar was felt on the back of the tongue which was slightly off-putting, but the smooth melt and salted touch made up for it

This was by all means no superior high cocoa milk chocolate, but it certainly was of a higher quality milk chocolate than what you can find in most shops and supermarkets. With a price of £1.49 (TK Maxx), if I was none the wiser, I would be far from disappointed. But, as a single origin chocolate, with less than 10% giving way to the flavour of the Vanuatuan cocoa...although it tasted nice, I am disappointed 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Valrhona Dulcey 32% Blond Chocolate

I bought Valrhona's Blond chocolate in Marseille, enjoying it after my al fresco dinner at sea which consisted of a fresh baguette from the boulangerie,  a blue-veined cheese and a pork terrine. I wouldn't usually have chocolate I'm to 'review' straight after a meal, especially a meal of such flavour! I usually taste my chocolate in the quiet darkness of nighttime, if not, several hours after having anything flavourful. I enjoyed my Valrhona blond chocolate, wishing I could have had more (I shared the 85g bar with my parents). I came to the conclusion that it was best and only fair I try the chocolate again but with a fresh and pure palate. So I bought the bar again the following morning and had it on the 11am train to Cannes, having only had fruit a few hours prior

The flavour had a late start, but it was beautiful. Comparing to standard white chocolate, it wasn't really sweet but its relaxing, dark, soft sweetness made it just as rich. And unlike most white chocolate, "SUGAR" didn't spring to mind. It was more buttery and tasted subtly caramelised

The Dulcey Blond had a soft break. My first bar had an immensely smooth mouthfeel but the second felt almost like plastic and rather wet in the mouth. The unique tan colour was something I was really looking forward to seeing

This chocolate, if I can call it chocolate by European standards, tasted even better than it smelt. The aroma was like cooking and caramelising white chocolate on a stove. And the taste was sitting on a cloud, watching the sun melt into the horizon and the red sky fading into darkness. (note to self: David Lebovitz' caramelized white chocolate recipe - I must try it!) 

The short finish was a buttery vanilla flavour with a salted feel (not necessarily taste) being left on the tongue. Valrhona note that their Dulcey tastes toasty and of shortbread. I very much agree. It certainly was toasty and I had a taste of shortbread biscuits dipping into a melting pot of white chocolate!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Lindt Excellence Caramel with a Touch of Sea Salt

This bar was bought from the French market which explains the French packaging. The dark chocolate was of 47% cocoa and within had 5% caramel and 0.3% sea salt

The aroma was rich. With crème brûlée, chocolate, vanilla, butter caramel, almond and malt coming to mind. The taste started with chocolate and slowly the caramel came through, and when crunching the caramel its flavour was lovely. I'm not keen on crunchy toffee/caramel in chocolate but it did taste good

The sea salt, how I long for, came without warning. It was a nice touch. Salt that sparks up unexpectedly and does not overpower nor result in a salty/briny taste, in any dish, is desirable. The caramel was pretty sweet, but I liked its dark taste

Monday, 21 July 2014

Chocolate and Love Dark Milk Chocolate 55% with Cacao Nibs

Chocolate and Love's cacao is sourced from their 3 Fairtrade partners in Peru and The Dominican Republic. It was promising to see that the chocolate avoided soya lecithin but, you know, if it was real good cocoa surely the vanilla wouldn't have been necessary.... The vanilla was Fairtrade from Madagascar. Chocolate and Love seemed like a company striving in ethics, could their chocolate live up to their high moral?

The milk chocolate was of 55% cocoa. I loved the packaging design and, even more so, seeing cocoa mass enlisted before cocoa butter. The aroma was lovely: creamy, butter, fragrant vanilla,  butterscotch, chocolate and a little fruity
The taste, though disrupted by the cacao nibs, mirrored the aroma. The nibs had their expectant blunt, bitter taste, but in particular they tasted chemically and likened to a mix of cereal grain, almond and distilled alcohol all whilst remaining mildly sour. I enjoy cacao nibs by themselves, but I'm yet to taste a nib-studded-chocolate that actually benefits from the nibs

Especially because of its acidic undertones, I know I'd have enjoyed this rich dark milk chocolate alone. The texture was beautifully smooth, the milkfat and cocoa butter did wonders for the tongue, and when chewing it felt like a truffle. The nibs added a crunch which made them even more disruptive. This chocolate isn't quite milk chocolate as we know it, considering it does not state its milk %, but I liked it. It had a strong cocoa body and finish and it wasn't too sweet

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Marks and Spencer Fairtrade 36% Milk Chocolate & with Sicilian Sea Salt

Marks and Spencer's Fairtrade 36% cocoa milk chocolate comprises of cane sugar, dried milk, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, milk fat, emulsifier and vanilla. The bars are manufactured in Italy (I believe by Agostoni) and retail at £2 for 100g

Milk Chocolate
The aroma was almost identical to the Nero & Bianco milk chocolate (that too made by Agostoni) though it seemed more cocoa defined, sweeter, richer and not as natural. It was buttery, vanilla and caramel. The taste was like the aroma: vanilla, caramel and slightly nutty. It wasn't anything mind blowing, but it was good. The texture was phenomenal, feeling incredibly smooth in the mouth

The Sicilian Sea Salt had the same traits but with a slight differentiation. The salt would lightly touch the tongue and enhance that sweet, sweet flavour. There was the occasional crunch of sea salt and I was so thankful that it didn't result in an overly salty taste (a common mistake made by many manufacturers). I chose this bar in lieu of the Salted Butterscotch bar and I certainly do not regret doing so

Marks and Spencer's milk chocolate tastes high quality, and being Agostoni it guarantees the cocoa is high quality. Mark and Spencer's packaging design is as wonderful as ever. A really enjoyable milk chocolate!