Sunday, July 19, 2020

Venchi - Granblend "Montezuma" Fruttato 65% squares - July 18, 2020

Chocolate of the Day: 

Granblend "Montezuma" Fruttato 65% squares
Weight: .53 oz. (15 g.) in 2 squares (7.5 grams each)
Calories: 86 calories in 2 squares
Cost: $2.40 for 2 squares ($1.20 x 2) + shipping
Purchased from:, online order

Ciao and welcome to Day #1 of Italian Chocolate Theme Week.

Today's Granblend "Montezuma" Fruttato 65% squares were from Venchi, made using cacao from four plantations (primarily Madagascar and perhaps other sources). Venchi is a large, privately held chocolate manufacturer based in Castelleto Stura, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy). 

Italian Chocolate Overview
The first chocolate makers in Italy date back to the late 1700s. Italy is also home to some of the longest running chocolate businesses in the world. There are still several family and privately held chocolate companies in existence after more than a century.* 

In the 1800s, companies like Caffarel, Pernigotti, Streglio, Peyrano and Venchi got their start. Venchi was founded in 1878 in Torino (Turin), Italy, by chocolatier Silviano Venchi, and became well-known for their chocolate and hazelnut nougatine candies.

Fruttato Squares
Today's Venchi dark chocolate 65% cocoa squares had an attractive circle of pink (flavored white chocolate?) on each square. The individually-wrapped squares had a subtle chocolate and fruit (strawberry - strawberry rose-vanilla aroma) and flavor.

The inclusion of whole milk powder yielded a smooth, creamy melt and mouthfeel. The milk may also have muted the sweetness a bit (OK by me) and mellowed flavors (maybe not so good, depending on the flavors that were muted). 

Madagascar cacao is often associated with red berry and citrus notes. A touch of "vanilla in ground berries"** and an acidifier (citric acid)** were added to this chocolate--perhaps to enhance the berry and citrus notes. (A salute to Madagascar terroir perhaps?)

In any case, the subtle flavors were nicely balanced, and we're asked to accept the trade-off of adding milk to dark chocolate, i.e. you get creamier texture but tamer flavors. This could well have been a good choice; but we'll never know. 

Venchi tasting notes: "Grand blend Montezuma*** with four plantations that combine to give off unique sensations of exotic fruit, bananas and vanilla, a prized plantation from Madagascar with aromas of ripe fruit and plane tree centrally embeds a citrus-fermented rosacea chocolate to preserve its characteristics."

*In the U.S., U.K. and other countries large, historic chocolate makers' operations are now primarily owned by, or are managed as, large, publicly-traded corporations with brand portfolios. Cailler, one of the oldest chocolate companies, founded in 1819, in Switzerland, now is part of Nestle. One notable local exception where I live in Northern California is: Guittard Chocolate, founded in the 1800s south of San Francisco and the company is still going strong in 2020 with descendants from the original founder.

**Ingredients: "Madagascar cocoa mass 44.2%, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier: soy lecithin, acidifier: citric acid, vanilla in ground berries, natural vanilla flavor." 

The "Montezuma" name on the label was a bit of a puzzle. Montezuma was the name of a hero-god in Indian (extending up into SW U.S.) mythology; and he was the Aztec chief  that ruled over a mighty empire in what is now Mexico in the 1500s). Montezuma is said to have consumed a large amount of cacao. This leader eventually met his downfall when forces led by Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes (Cortez) arrived looking for wealth and gold. And, Cortez brought some of the first cacao back to Spain with him. Cacao would eventually made its way to Italy and the rest of Europe as well. And, given the wonders of today's complex food supply chains, today's chocolate ended up in Northern California, closer to the original source of cacao (Central and South America).

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