Chocolate of the Day
SAS Chocolaterie A. Morin
Java Arjuna 70% Noir (Dark) bar
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.76 oz. (50 g.) / 3.52 oz. (100 g.) in total bar
Calories: 292 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.80 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order
Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and South Pacific Islands Week. This extended edition 10-day "week" is ending with two days of cacao origins from further West--where the Pacific Ocean flows into the Indian Ocean.
Indonesia--an island archipelago made up of 17,000+ islands (approximately 6,000 of which are inhabited)--is one of the top cacao producing regions in the world. Cacao is cultivated on several of the larger islands/countries, namely Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Java, Papua, and East Kalimantan. That said, few people in the U.S. have had access to a large number of single origin bars from these islands.
Java is the most densely populated island in Indonesia, but there is still room for crops like: palm, coconut, rice, coffee, tea, spices (e.g. ginger), sugar, cocoa and other fruits and vegetables.
Today's Java Arjuna 70% Noir (Dark) bar was made by SAS Chocolaterie A. Morin (Donzere, France)--a bean-to-bar/artisanal chocolate company since 1958, with family origins dating back to 1884.
I'm guessing the cacao used to make this chocolate was grown either near Arjuna* (aka Arjuno) the name of a volcanic mountain in eastern Java; or closer to the Arjuna temple complex in Central Java.
Aroma and flavor notes for this polite, but intriguingly complex, 70% chocolate included such a huge range of aroma and flavor notes over the course of a few hours, it was hard to believe. Notes included: wood, faint savory/umami (light mushroom soup gently simmering over a wood stove with buttered toast/popcorn), very faint barn yard/saddle leather, gently roasted seed/mild nut notes, cocoa, and very faint fruit (mild red apple, dried apricot, light lemonade) and spice (the almost invisible smell of freshly baked banana spice bread with ginger, cinnamon and lemongrass). The was an ultra-faint oxidized note very late in the finish.
With each taste, the flavors shifted a bit, revealing a new facet with every bite. Very few chocolate bars are able to conjure up the breadth of aromas and flavors, or can manage this many shifts, in the way this Java bar did.** There were no strong or "off" notes during the entire tasting arc, just more flavors appearing and sharing the stage with each bite. Magic.
The texture was even and smooth, with a very mild astringency.
Tasting notes from the maker: "This chocolate stands out with woody aromas. Gently smoky, it releases notes of nuts and spices..." (These) "aromas reflect our emotions while tasting this chocolate but they should not prevail over the ones you experience."
Tasting notes on the Bar and Cocoa site read as follows: "This chocolate is distinguished by woody aromas. Slightly smoked, it has some notes of dried fruits and spices. Java cocoa has a large percentage of Criollo..." (Note: Criollo is a cacao variety, heritage (variety) prized for its mild, but complex, delicate and sophisticated flavors.)
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin.
*According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia: "Arjuna (also given as Arjun) is the great hero of the Indian epic Mahabharata and the philosophical-religious dialogue Bhagavad Gita. His name means "shining", "silver" and similar terms relating to brightness...Arjuna represents the best aspects of humanity: Courage, Strength, and Humility." (It is not an uncommon name in Java.)
**The other notable "shape-shifter" bar in the past year that rivaled this Java bar's layered tasting experience was a delicious Venezuela Porcelana 70% Chocolate bar crafted by William Marx of Wm. Chocolate (Madison, WI).