Sunday, September 27, 2015

Venchi - Organic Dark Chocolate 70% bar - Sept. 27, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Venchi S.p.A.
Biologico 70% Dark Chocolate bar
Good ++ - Very Good
Weight: 2.46 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 400 calories (estimate) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $7.08 (sale) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Chocosphere (online order)

Today was Day #3 of Chocolate and Italy Theme Week.

I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one Venchi chocolate this week. This company had its start in the 1800s, in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Today's Venchi organic, extra dark chocolate 70% bar was made with Criollo Blanco and nacional Amendolado cacao beans from Ecuador. These beans are valued for their fine flavor and aroma, and the blend used in this 3-ingredient chocolate ("organic Ecuador cocoa mass, organic sugar cane, organic cocoa butter") yielded a wide spectrum of pleasing flavors.

The gluten free Venchi 70% bar was thick, sweet, and very creamy, and full of very subtle flavor: floral fruit, nutty, very light smoke, light earth, green olive/wood. I had to really focus to detect this incredible range of flavor notes; but other than that "effort," it was a very easy bar to eat. No real bitterness* (just a very, very balanced subtle hint in the finish); no astringency off-notes, or funky earthy molds.

Very nice and smooth, yet surprisingly complex if you pay attention.

*Polyphenols and Criollo

Plants containing certain bitter compounds and alkaloids are better able to deter insects and other would-be pests that would eat or damage plants. Interestingly, some of us omnivores (monkeys, squirrels, humans) co-evolved to tolerate, and actually benefit from, small amounts of these compounds, such as polyphenols (plant-based molecules that contain anti-oxidants). And, conveniently, monkeys, squirrels and humans helped scatter seeds to other parts of forests, benefiting plants.

Bitter and astringent flavors are present in plant-based foods and beverages such as cacao, tea, wine, berries, nuts, etc. Polyphenols, flavanol polymers, and/or tannins taste bitter or cause a sense of puckery dryness in one's mouth.

Criollo cacao beans are generally lower in polyphenols than, say, Trinitario cacao beans. As a result, chocolate made from Criollo beans tends to be less bitter and/or astringent. And, with less bitterness, subtler floral and fruit flavors can be easier to detect as well.

1 comment:

Lisabeth said...

Great note on polyphenols and Criollo! I love Italy week! Some friends just brought back some crunchy stone-ground style chocolate from Italy (Ciokarrua company)and Domori, which was great, but I have been wishing I had given them a huge list of chocolate brands to bring back to me! This Venchi bar sounds good - I've only had a few Venchi chocolate bars, but would love to try more one of these days.

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