Chocolate of the Day
Maya Mountain Belize 90% Rich Dark Chocolate (bar)
Weight: 1.05 oz. (30 g.) / 2.1 oz. (60 g.) in total bar
Calories: 148.8 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $10.00 (+ summer shipping) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order
Welcome to Day #2 of Chocolate and Central America Theme Week, featuring chocolates made from cacao grown in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The Toledo District in southern Belize is to chocolate what Napa is to wine in California. That was my take-away after visiting Southern Belize years ago. (This visit included a Jeep ride to visit Maya Mountain Cacao,* a small co-op working directly with Mayan cacao farmers.)
Today's Maya Mountain Belize 90% Rich Dark Chocolate (bar) was made by Tosier Chocolatemaker (Suffolk, U.K.). The cacao (2019 Harvest, Batch 23219) used to craft this micro-batch bar was carefully gathered from farmers.
The complex but relatively subtle aroma notes for this bar included (in order of appearance): molasses, and concentrated fruit (berries, figs). After being open for a few minutes this mellowed and evolved into faint, fleeting vegetable (green squash, baked potato), then back to dark chocolate with faint spice and fruit compote (plum and peach), and faint tart-green (oxalis), followed by faint flicker of green tea.
Flavor notes included rich dark chocolate (fudge) with subtle loamy earth and very faint (barely there) mushroom. There was a slight astringent, dry graininess or chalkiness to the texture. This textural attribute softened into a smoother, more buttery mouthfeel toward the end.
If I'd eaten the whole bar I might have discovered this perceived dryness was either a fleeting quality, more present in one part of the bar, or it may have shape-shifted away altogether. But, I only sampled two, adjacent, rectangular pieces...
...One hour later, I re-sampled this relatively smooth (low in bitterness, acidity) 90% ultra-dark bar--from the other end of the bar. And while still present, this dry mouthfeel was less noticeable. And, it morphed into a smoother finish more quickly. I'm a fan of re-tasting chocolate if possible. Truth can be fluid when it comes to flavors and taste and one's palette, even after very short periods of time.
Maker's tasting notes: "Redcurrant and stone fruit with a long buttery finish." ("Light roast, 60 hours grinding in stone melanger with refiner.")
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, organic unrefined cane sugar, ethically sourced cocoa butter
*Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC), majority-owned by Uncommon Cacao, is located in the Toledo District, inland from the Caribbean coast. When I visited there it had been in operation for a few years and was already producing fine cacao that had caught the attention of many specialty chocolate makers producing single origin dark chocolate.
MMC were (and still are) working/trading directly with indigenous Maya farmers and helping to incent and support production of high-quality beans. Most of the approximately 350 farmers are small land-holders. This cacao was "intercropped with hard wood, fruit trees, banana, coconut and mango."
The hilly Maya Mountain area surrounding this organization (and its centralized fermentery) is an undulation of interesting shapes and multi-story building-sized mounds, covered by vegetation.
From the air, looking down on the area, it's easy to imagine old dwellings/cities/temples built by ancient Maya and related, Central American civilizations that might lie beneath the jungle. In fact, this is partly true. I spoke to someone who remembered growing up in the area and remembers playing among historic ruins. "It was just something we took for granted. It was no big deal," he told me.