Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ChocolateBet: August 7, 2012

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Vintage Plantations Chocolates

1.) Whole Milk bar
Good - Good +
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) total bar
Calories: 150 calories in 1/4 bar (based on label)
Cost: $N/A - sample
Purchased from: N/A - sample from supplier

2.) Sea Salt and Caramel bar
Good - Good+
Weight: .875 oz. (25 g.) / 3.5 oz. (100 g.) total bar
Calories: 117 calories in 1/4 bar (based on label)
Cost: $N/A - sample
Purchased from: N/A - sample from supplier

Today I sampled two milk chocolate bars from Vintage Plantations Chocolates (Newark, NJ), made from "Antigua Nacional" cacao beans from Ecuador.

The packaging for these two Vintage Plantations bars contained a good deal of information about the company's approach to chocolate making. For example, whole milk chocolate was used instead of other milk by-products or oils; no vanilla or aromas were used; and the company helped to pioneer -- and adheres to -- Rainforest Alliance guidelines regarding social and environmental practices. We're also told that Vintage Plantations owner, Pierrick Chouard, selected beans that were fermented at the Rancho Grande farm. (I'm assuming this ranch was in Ecuador as well.)

The Whole Milk bar was smooth, with a focus that was as much on the milk as on the cacao. I detected no discernible cacao flavor notes, except for one very vague floral note in one bite; however, there were no objectionable notes either.

This whole milk bar (I'm guessing between 36% and 40% cacao) had a slight delay in mouth melt. This delay be OK on a hot day outside, if I want to avoid an instant puddle of molten chocolate fondue; however, the fact that the chocolate was a bit firmer/gummier meant I didn't wait and hold it in my mouth until it dissolved. Why is this important? Typically the dissolution point is when my taste buds are sending available flavor information to my brain -- a very satisfying point in, and part of, the tasting experience. (This bar did contain some soy lecithin, an emulsifier used to prevent water and fats from separating, which may have influenced texture.)

The Sea Salt and Caramel milk bar was, happily, gluten free. It contained a few small taste sparkles of salt, and bits of sweet caramel, with very faint notes of cinnamon. (The sea salt and caramel bar was made with raw sugar and contained no soy lecithin.) This second Vintage Plantations bar also had a bit of a mouth melt delay, but not nearly as much as the company's Whole Milk bar.

Today was Day #1 of Chocolate and Caramel and Toffee Theme Week.

----- Postscript from Pierrick C. at Vintage Plantations -----

Aug. 9, 2012

Pierrick Chouard, Vintage Plantations, responds: 

After this post, Pierrick pointed out that larger chocolate companies may do the following when they make commercial milk chocolate (bars):

- 1.) Replace the cocoa liquor with cocoa powder
- 2.) Use aroma of chocolate to cover the fact that cocoa powder does not have much flavor
- 3.) Use milk fat -- it gives an instant mouth feel of melting in your mouth because it is: butter. One of the interesting properties of butter is that it also prevents blooming; 2 to 4% butter fat in the chocolate will prevent blooming.

(Vintage Plantations) are strictly cocoa liquor, whole milk: a lot thicker, with more casein than milk serum, and sugar and vanilla. We conch for a minimum of 72 hours. We get the velvety effect on the third day of conching. We can afford to do this because we completely re-thought the process and bought machines accordingly.

...I hope it will shed lights on why we call our chocolate "vintage". ..before the advent of biochemistry and molecule engineering tricking your palate.

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