Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Fresco - Polochic Valley (Guatemala) Medium Roast 70% (bar) - Aug. 17, 2021

Chocolate of the Day

Fresco Artisan Chocolate 
Polochic Valley Guatemala Medium Roast 70% (bar)
Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (25 g.) / 1.8 oz. (50 g.) in total bar
Calories: 136.5 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.00 + summer shipping for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order 

Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Guatemala.

Today's Polochic Valley (Guatemala) Medium Roast 70% (bar) was from Fresco Artisan Chocolate (Lynden, WA,). 

The company makes bean-to-bar, smaller batch chocolate with cacao carefully selected origins. The cacao used to make this bar was grown in the El Valle del Polochic (rio) (Polochic Valley), located in northeast Guatemala (SE side of the department* of Alta Verapaz). 

Every batch of cacao beans calls for tests and tweaks to obtain desired results. However, Fresco maker(s) often will carry this one step further, to make different chocolate bars with the same beans by varying how the beans are processed. And they typically share information such as various roast and conch choices made. 

For today's single origin Polochic Valley Guatemala bar (Batch 20-368), "Recipe 251" called for medium roast and long conch** times.

The Guatemalan cacao was slowly drum roasted for a "medium" length of time for a balanced, flavorful profile. And a long(er) conch time yielded "flavor peaks and valleys softened to a melodic harmony." 

The aroma of this bar included chocolate with tart (citrus/lemon), astringent green (oxalis, sorrel, sour grass); very faint, fleeting sweet, warm spice (lemon pepper cookie, ginger, vanilla); and barely there savory (salt; lemon herb caramel) notes.

How did it taste? The texture and melt were smooth. The perceived acidity was low to medium, the bitterness was relatively low, as was the astringency (despite the aroma that included oxalis and very faint cranberry lemon jam notes).

The flavor was more true chocolate (brownie cookie) than the aroma, as is often the case. The balanced chocolate also included versions of the aroma notes mentioned above. There was a wee bit of lemony herb oxalic acidity made sweet/tempered by the sugar. But, again the flavors were nicely balanced together, and the finish was relatively light, lingering and clean.

The maker's tasting notes included the following: "Our medium roast reveals notes of red fruit and caramel...Our long conche results in a mellow flavor with subtle earthy notes."

Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter 

Allergen-related information: (None listed on packaging/label.) However, Fresco's website contained the following sentence: "Our chocolate is dairy free, soy free, nut free and gluten free."

*Guatemala is divided into 22 departments, which are roughly similar to states in the United States. Alta Verapaz is one of these departments. 

Farms in this area also grow sugar cane and oil palms. The country's largest agricultural exports have been coffee, sugar, bananas and beef. Despite the existence of many individual cacao farmers, Guatemalan cacao export volumes have been relatively low, less than 10% of the country's total.

**To conche, or conch, in chocolate making refers to the process of stirring/grinding/breaking down cocoa bean pieces into smooth chocolate. 

A conching machine is so named for its original spiral-shaped blade that resembled/resembles a "concha," the Spanish/Latin word for a type of sea shell and/or "conche," the French word for trough or shell. The machine uses motion/rotations and heat (friction) that results in the melding together of smaller and smaller particles of cocoa butter (fat portion of the bean) and cocoa solids. 

Longer conch times can result in smoother and more buttery chocolates. At the same time aeration is happening, which can result in the loss of certain flavors if the time is too long. So the time selected for this process needs to be carefully managed when making chocolate to arrive at the best possible compromise and the optimal texture and flavor profile for each batch of different cacao beans, each with slightly different characteristics.

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