Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Crow & Moss - Honduras Wampusirpi 70% Chocolate (bar) - June 2, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Crow and Moss Chocolate
Honduras Wampusirpi 70% bar
Good +++
Weight: 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 300 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $8.75 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com, online order

Welcome to Day #12 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week.

Today's Honduras Wampusirpi 70% bar was made from bean-to-bar by Crow and Moss (Petoskey, MI). The Spanish word "Honduras," translated into English means "depths." 

This two-ingredient chocolate (cacao beans, organic cane sugar) had flavor depth, and evoked a romantic sense of place,* tempered with respect. The cacao used was grown in a relatively remote area of Honduras, and while likely carefully sourced, I'm guessing these beans (like almost all new cacao batches) required a few test roasts/batches at Crow and Moss.

The resulting bar was rich and satisfying. The maker's tasting notes read as follows: honey, banana, toasted walnut. 

The chocolate had a mild green jungle nut/seed aroma (found in some "white" Theobroma cacao relatives) and faint green banana with very subtle earth, smoked almond and light leather notes. 

Yes, to my delight, this chocolate was borderline savory, without any salt or potentially intrusive, actual umami** flavor inclusions. I loved that these flavors were showcased in a balanced and elegant way.

The flavor profile was similar to the aroma, with sweet, dark chocolate with toasted walnut banana bread notes. And the finish was pleasing. It lingered with a trace of honey, and very tiny sparklets of balanced not-quite-fruit (subdued, dark dried cherry/banana/coffee fruit) tartness and green tea.

*Cacao bean flavors are often associated with cacao variety, fermentation choices and even soil and other local characteristics. Honduras exports coffee, bananas, tropical fruit and sugar cane--primarily crops brought to the new world by Spanish colonizers centuries ago. Prior to their arrival, the Maya and other indigenous peoples cultivated beans, squash, maize, cacao and other native fruit trees. Wampusirpi is a small town in remote northeastern Honduras, in the department of Gracias a Dios (Thanks to God), where cacao might be one of the few cash crops. Fortunately, many bean-to-bar makers are experimenting with beans from this area, largely from native Trinitario cacao varieties. 

**Umami flavors are most commonly those found in savory, high-glutamate (glutamic acid/amino acid) foods such as cheeses, certain meats (think bacon, smoked meats), dried tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, fermented soy and other foods. Admission: I like savory flavors very much.







Sunday, May 31, 2020

Nuance Chocolate - Guatemala Lachua 2015 70% (bar) - May 31, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Nuance Chocolate
Guatemala Lachua 2015 70% (bar)
Good +
Weight: 1.94 oz. (55 g.) in total bar
Calories: 300 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $8.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Nuance Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week.

Today's Guatemala Lachua 2015 70% (bar) was from Nuance Chocolate (Fort Collins, CO).

The bar was made using "Trinitario cacao from the Alta Verapaz mountains in Coban, Guatemala."*

Made only with cacao, cane sugar and cocoa butter, this three-ingredient chocolate still conjured up its own unique impression.

It had a relatively uniform sweet grape aroma and flavor with sweet fruit (red grapes, melon, very sweet tangerine, sweet tea) acidity, a fleeting faint nuttiness and relatively low bitterness. Re-tasting multiple times revealed slightly more flavor complexity; however, I kept thinking of sangria (sweet wine and fruit beverage).

A sweet lingering finish and a slight astringency tickled the back of the throat for a short while. After re-tasting a very subtle, fleeting herbal (caraway and coriander) note appeared in the finish as well. 

This 70% cacao bar (presumably with 30% percent sugar) tasted more like a 60% cacao offering (with 40% sugar)--serving as a good example of why 70% cacao (and 30% sugar) may be a fine blend for many artisan dark bars, but some cacao beans can do with less sugar. It would have been interesting to have a side-by-side tasting with a 75% or 77% cacao version (i.e. with only 25-23% sugar) using the same Guatemala cacao. It's hard to know which would have been judged "best"--a subjective term in any case. 

The Nuance chocolate maker's tasting notes read as follows:

"A complex chocolate with juicy layers of rum, wine, raisins, and papaya. Magical things happen right at the melting point. A slightly dry finish, with moderate acidity."

*Coban is also the name of the capital city of the Department of Alta Verapaz in central Guatemala in the Chama Mountains. It was founded about 1538 near Mayan ruins and was named for the Indian chieftain Cobaou. Agricultural exports have included: coffee, tea, cacao, vanilla, orchids, livestock, lumber/hardwoods.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Chocolate Real - Ka'kow dark 99% Guatemalan Cacao (bar) - May 30, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Chocolate Real
Ka'kow Homemade Chocolate dark (oscura) 99% Guatemalan Organic Cacao (bar)
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.76 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 138 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $N/A - gift from a friend
Purchased from: N/A - gift from a friend (thank you Dennis!)

Welcome to Day #9 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week.

Today's Ka'kow Homemade Chocolate dark (oscura) 99% Guatemalan Organic Cacao (bar) was from Chocolate Real (Sumpango Sacatepequez, Guatemala). Chocolate Real (which also translates into Royal Chocolate in English) started making chocolate in Guatemala in 2013.

This dark chocolate had a strong, pleasant, "sweet" hot chocolate aroma. A high percent of cocoa butter (50%) enabled a creamy smooth melt and texture. The flavor had strong true, bold dark chocolate flavor with balanced bitterness (and at 99% cacao total) with almost no sugar or bright fruit sweetness.

The true chocolate, and brownie flavor notes gave way to a finish with a  slightly minty/menthol note. Note the mint all but disappeared in subsequent tastings throughout the day and was replaced by a very faint spice (cinnamon) note.

Ingredients: "manteca de cacao (al menos 50%), licor de cacao, sabor a vanilla, sal"--loosely translated: cocoa butter (at least 50%), cocoa liquor, vanilla flavor, salt.




Friday, May 29, 2020

Michel Cluizel - Plantation Laguna Chocolat Lait 47% Guatemala (bar) - May 29, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Michel Cluizel
Plantation Laguna Chocolat Lait 47% Guatemala (bar)
Good +
Weight: 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 416 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $8.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week.

This Plantation Laguna Milk Chocolate 47% Guatemala bar was from Michel Cluizel (Damville, Normandy, France).

This chocolate had a creamy milk chocolate melt and mouthfeel, with earthy, faint dried fruit (muted fig, banana peels) and (a bit later, joined by) warm caramel aroma and flavor notes.

The maker's tasting notes read as follows: "A smooth and creamy texture, with sweet notes of cappuccino and hot chocolate, mixed with notes of hazelnuts and toasted bread, ending in a long finish of butterscotch and intense notes of cocoa."




Michel Cluizel - Plantation La Laguna Chocolat Noir 70% (bar) - May 28, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Michel Cluizel
Plantation La Laguna Chocolat Noir 70% (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 200 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.25 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com, online order

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week.

Today's Plantation La Laguna Chocolat Noir 70% (bar) was from Michel Cluizel (Damville, Normandy, France). Plantation La Laguna is located in the west central part of Guatemala.

This bar had a true chocolate aroma with faint fruit (raspberry) and a very faint green note.
The flavor had light roasted, caramel, fruit, light earth, fudge brownie, and very faint leather saddle notes. The texture was...smooth melt with booth creaminess and a few pieces of ultra-fine cacao grit.

Maker's tasting notes read as follows: "The succulent aromas of plums and roasted cocoa are followed by notes of buttered apples and licorice, ending in a long finish with bitter-sweet notes of mint and spice."

Ranger Chocolate - 80% Guatemala Polochic bar - May 27, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Ranger Chocolate
80% Guatemala Polochic bar
Good+++ - Very Good
Weight: 2.5 oz. (70.75 g.) in total bar
Calories: 382 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $10.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Ranger Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week. 

Centuries ago Guatemala was at the heart of the Maya Empire, and more than half of the country's current population, including many cacao farmers, are Maya descendants. This week features several Guatemala single origin bars. 

Ranger Chocolate (Portland, OR) likely used cacao grown in the Polichic river valley to make today's 80% Polochic Guatemala bar. The Polichic River flows from west--from the Dept. of Alta Verapaz east to the Dept. of Izabel/Lago Izabel in central Guatemala.* 

This chocolate had a bright, sweet dried fruit aroma (peach-apricot, cherry, light red raspberry) with green and faint floral notes. The melt and mouthfeel were smooth and creamy. 

The bar provided very well balanced chocolate and fruit flavors. I tasted a very faint fleeting spiced fruit (spiced peach compote with a hint of cinnamon and molasses) note on the first bite, which faded when I re-tasted the rest of the bar 20 minutes later. 

Our chocolate radar picked up a barely detectable (perhaps self-conjured), almost nutty, buttery mushroom/loam note--enough for a chocolate and umami lover to dream they'd hit the flavor trifecta.**

This bar was pleasing to the end, with a clean, true chocolate finish (that included a flourish of chocolate brownie batter) in the first few bites 

*Not far (as least as the crow flies--over the jungle) from the Polochic River lie ruins of impressive Maya cities. Across the country one can see stone temples and alters, hieroglyphs and stelae. Historic Maya sites in Guatemala include Iximche, Quirigua, Yaxha, El Mirador and Tikal. One of the largest cities, Tikal (200 - 900 A.D.) was once home to upwards of 200,000 people. It's estimated that the Maya Empire across the Yucatan peninsula area might have had a population of 2 million people.

**A trifecta is a three-fold win or series of three positive events, or a bet where the better correctly picks the three top winners, e.g. win(1st), place (2nd) and show (3rd) in a horse race.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Harper Macaw - 77% Monte Grande Guatemala (bar) - May 26, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Harper Macaw
77% Monte Grande Guatemala Single Origin Directly Traded (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 2.5 oz. (70 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 380 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: $9.00 (estimate) in 1 bar
Purchased from: Harper Macaw, online order

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week. Guatemala was at the heart of Maya territory.

Today's 77% Monte Grande* Guatemala Single Origin Directly Traded (bar) was from Harper Macaw (a chocolate factory and cafe in Washington, D.C.).

This bar had a smooth texture and a rich chocolate and dried fruit (goji berry) aroma and flavor, a  fleeting hint of molasses aroma, and red berry and grape tart-sweetness.

The choice of a 77% cacao seemed a good one; a 70 percent cacao version might have been too sweet.

*The cacao was grown at the Monte Grande family farm in Coatepeque, Guatemala, in the Costa Sur (south coast) area. 







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