Thursday, May 6, 2021

Kaitxo - Tanzania Morogoro, Valle Kilombero 75% bar - May 6, 2021

Chocolate of the Day

Tanzania Morogoro, Valle Kilombero 75% bar
Good +
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $9.50 + shipping for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #7 of Chocolate and Tanzania Theme Week.

Today's Tanzania Morogoro, Valle Kilombero 75% Cacao, bean-to-bar, Basque chocolate was produced by Kaitxo Avda Encartaciones (Balmaseda, Spain). The company offers a variety of specialty chocolates and coffees.

This 75% cacao chocolate had relatively subtle aroma with warm, baked chocolate cake/brownie, and fruit (chocolate covered red apple/red fruit). It was made using ("Amelonado/Criollo") cacao from "Kamili," Morogoro (Kilombero Valley), Tanzania. 

The chocolate had an even, stoneground melt and texture and sharper/more distinct flavors than other Tanzania origin bars featured this week. (This would make sense if there was less conching/grinding time, which results in slightly granular texture, and less homogenized and better "preserved" flavors.)

The flavor was relatively bright and complex with pleasing, dark chocolate, citrus (tart-sweet lemon), a sparkle or two of tart-sweet tropical fruits, red fruit, cream, bread, green nut, with a slight astringency in the second half of tasting a bite. It was high in flavor, and (like other bars this week) relatively low in bitterness. There was a bit more fruit/citrus acid in this bar, but it was relatively well balanced.

I enjoyed tasting a 75% cacao chocolate made from (Kokoa) Kamili-sourced (Tanzania) beans. This cacao (the source for almost all the bars featured this week) tasted naturally sweet and bright. And bumping up the cacao a few percentage points above the "standard"* 70% chocolate bar (combined with what might've been a shorter grind/conch time) yielded a bit more cacao flavor, and less sugar.

The Kaitxo chocolate maker's tasting notes read as follows: "Frutos rojos (red fruits), avellanas (hazelnuts) y (and) melaza (molasses)."

Ingredients: Cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter.

Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of wheat, free nuts and soy."

*About this standard 70%...In the 1990s, there was a new focus on educating people about cacao percentages in chocolate. Few people up until that point would have thought much about these numbers. There was dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. What more did a chocolate lover need to know? 

However, dark chocolate back then often did contain far less cacao than it does today, so this discussion was necessary for chocolate makers who wanted to showcase more unique cacao origins and flavors (that would also cost more). There were many parallels going on with other food specialty products (like coffee, distilled spirits, preserves, etc.) at the same time. The bar was being raised.

Dark chocolate lovers started hearing that 70% cacao was the optimal percentage for a artisan chocolate offerings. This percentage of cocoa (solids) would be acceptably sweet, but not overly sweet. (Makers also saw that most buyers (at least initially) preferred sweeter chocolate, and that higher percentage bars might be a tougher sell.)

Fortunately, a handful of dedicated, small, bean-to-bar chocolate makers took considerable risks and succeeded. Times have changed. While 70% cacao chocolate might be a good starting place, you hear less about that being the "ideal" number today. Most specialty/craft chocolate makers take great pains to study individual batches of cacao first before making these decisions. And we happily trust them to do so.

A fruity, sweet cacao will become overly so with too much added sugar. So a 72-75% cacao chocolate bar might be a better choice than 70% cacao for this batch/origin. A bitter or bolder cacao might do well with a little added cocoa butter and sugar, or not. Fermentation, roasting, conching, and other choices optimize/highlight/downplay different flavors. Percentages can serve as guides for dark chocolate enthusiasts, but never tell the complete story. For that, you have to taste.

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