Monday, March 15, 2021

Nuance Chocolate - Madagascar Sambirano Valley 70% Dark (bar) - Mar. 15, 2021

Chocolate of the Day

Nuance Chocolate Company
Single Origin Madagascar Sambirano Valley 2016 70% Pure Dark (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: .97 oz. (27.5 g.) / 1.94 oz. (55 g.) in total bar
Calories: 150.5 calories for 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.50 (+ shipping) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Nuance Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Madagascar Theme Week.

Today's Single Origin Madagascar Sambirano Valley 2016 (Harvest) ("Batch 22591") 70% Pure Dark (bar) was made by Nuance Chocolate Company (Fort Collins, CO). 

Nuance produces a variety of small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolates (bars and confections). This single origin dark chocolate was made using a Trinitario (variety of) cacao grown in the lush Sambirano Valley in northwest Madagascar.

The aroma, flavor--and texture--of this chocolate all had a balanced smoothness and sophistication that even Goldilocks* would be pleased with. There were no traces of dense darkness, earthiness or spiky surprises in this bar. It had a natural tart sweetness, but was not overly sour or bitter. It had a clean, crisp fruit/peaches and cream finish. It was just right.*

The chocolate had a "warm," true chocolate (hot chocolate, drinking chocolate) aroma and flavor, and an almost creamy, smooth texture. Most notably, it had a gentle wave of bright, tart-sweet fruit acidity (a blend of ripe, acidic citrus, faint ripe red berry, and concentrated stone fruits (nectarine, plum, apricot)). These acidic fruit flavor notes are very characteristic of Madagascan cacao.**

Nuance Chocolate's tasting notes read as follows: "Fascinating and sophisticated layers of flavor, with a long and satisfying finish. Brightly acidic fruit, in particular grapefruit and raspberry, with a backdrop of softer flavors like plum and apricot."

Ingredients: cacao, cane sugar, cocoa butter

*Goldilocks was a young girl in a fairy tale (or in an earlier version of the story in Europe, an older woman), who entered a home to try out the occupants' (a family of bears') furniture and porridge. During her larcenous visit, Goldilocks located items that were "just right" (not too hard, not too soft, not too hot, not too cold, etc.) that were to her liking. 

I do not advocate breaking into a bear's home. You're more likely to find grubs and honey (and trouble) there than chocolate anyway. 

Bears will eat chocolate but, like dogs, eating too much can make them quite ill. So, politely decline if they ask you for some. Humans can process the plant alkaloid theobromine (and smaller amount of caffeine), found in cocoa and chocolate; but many other animals cannot.

**These lovely citrus and other fruit flavors reminded me of cacao fruit. If you are traveling in Hawaii (the only U.S. state where you'll likely find cacao growing) or other tropical country within 20 degrees latitude of the Equator, do look for opportunities to try cacao, specifically the pulpy white cacao fruit.

If we could transport ourselves to the plantation where the Trinitario cacao used to make this bar was grown, and we broke open one of the cacao pods (fruits) to taste the ivory-colored fruit pulp surrounding the seeds (cacao beans), we'd find that the fruit has its own tart sweet fruit flavor that's a blend of many of the fruits referenced in today's description. 

Cacao fruit is bright, tart-sweet and delicious. The flavor(s) vary in intensity depending on the cacao variety and where it's growing. Citrus, watermelon, various tropical fruits (mango, mangosteen, pineapple), and many other fruit and floral descriptors, have been used to describe this exotic fruit that begins to ferment fairly quickly once harvested. 

Madagascan cacao seems to capture some of this cacao fruit essence better than some other origins.

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