Chocolate of the Day
70% Nicaragua El Castillero (bar)
Weight: 1.23 oz. (35 g.) / 2.47 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 204 calories (per label) in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.50 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order
Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Nicaragua Theme Week, and Day #1 of Chocolate, Trees and Bees Theme Week--an opportunity to celebrate trees, bees and honey, and their contributions to chocolate.
Today's 70% Nicaragua El Castillero (bar) was made from bean-to-bar by Puchero (Valladolid, Spain). The company offers a line of single origin bars. (Co-founders, Paloma and Marco, have honed their roasting skills via their involvement in both coffee and cacao.)
The Puchero bars (packaging) I've seen have been graced with a striking image of a cross-section of a large tree. Cacao does grow on trees. This image may not be of a cacao tree, but it was lovely all the same. Tree-grown fruit, nut and sweeteners are common inclusions in artisan bars. However, Puchero, like other craft chocolate makers/magicians, summon these flavors solely via carefully roasted and ground cacao beans and a bit of sugar.
The cacao used to make this single origin bar was "grown by smallholder farmers in agroforestry." (El Castillero is associated with Indio Maiz biological reserve where cacao grows in southern Nicaragua.)
This 70% single origin bar was versatile and balanced. Subtle, sophisticated notes were spun together: faint, fleeting earth, umami, wood, and nut; a flicker of green. It had a natural sweetness to it. The "main course" was a small plate of fruit (light stone fruit, gentle white wine grape, pear), floral (light blossom honey), sweet herb (licorice) and true chocolate (brownie) notes. It was a deceptively simple, and satisfying, dark bar.
Pay careful attention as this exquisite tiny symphony plays out on your palette. And, as with all fine, single origin chocolate, please do take time to savor, and re-taste, this over a period of minutes. Different aroma and flavor notes appear and disappear.
The finish was delicate. There was a fleeting, very light astringency. The faint honey-floral sweetness, faint licorice* and cocoa notes lingered a bit and then gradually tailed off.
Puchero tasting notes read as follows: "Medium intensity and low acidity. Honey sweetness with pear, licorice and floral notes."
Ingredients: cacao, sugar, cocoa butter.
Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of nuts, milk and gluten"
*Please note: The aroma and flavor notes mentioned were conjured skillfully from just three ingredients. There was no licorice in this bar, or honey, or nuts. These adjectives were merely the perceptions of a grateful reviewer.