Chocolate of the Day
82% Congo Mountains of the Moon Single Origin, Organic (bar)
Weight: 1.06 oz. (30 g.) / 2.8 oz. (80 g.) in total bar
Calories: 180 calories in 1.06 oz. (30 g.) (9 squares) of bar
Cost: $7.49 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Nugget Markets, Tiburon, CA (Thank you Don!)
Buenos dias (good day), and welcome to Day #8 of European Chocolate Holiday Theme Week, where we're experiencing several European countries, via chocolate.
Today's featured bar enabled virtual travel to Barcelona, Spain. (And, for those in California, scroll down to read about a "real" visit to a local Basque restaurant for additional chocolate fun.)
The 82% Congo (Mountains of the Moon) single origin, organic dark chocolate bar was made from bean to bar in Barcelona by Blanxart (San Joan Despi, BCN, Spain).
Because of the proximity to African cacao growing countries, many European makers obtain their cacao from Africa. Blanxart chocolate makers crafted this 82% single origin bar using Forastero variety cocoa beans ("selected from small farm cooperatives") from Congo.
The "Mountains of the Moon" name in the bar's title refers to the Rwenzori Mountains located between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the more temperate foothills surrounding this range, cacao and other crops are grown.
This bar had a dark chocolate aroma with smooth, faint umami (salt caramel, leather and light earth/clay, barely there roasted greens) and clean mineral notes.
The Forastero cacao used yielded bold, deep hearty chocolate flavor (as this variety typically does). However, even at a high cacao percentage (82%),* the flavor profile also had nicely balanced complexity, including true chocolate (toasted brownie) notes and (half-way in) an up-tick of bright fruit, including berry (red raspberry to ripe blackberry/black raspberry, and sweet black currant) and very faint citrus (sour lemon to very sweet pink grapefruit) notes.
This multi-faceted, sophisticated chocolate was relatively low in bitterness (for an ultra-dark Forastero bar) and had a balanced level of acidity. The bold chocolate flavors tapered down softly (as if to take a bow) into a clean finish.
Blanxart tasting notes for Mountains of the Moon cacao: "...red fruits, citrus..."
Ingredients: "Cocoa 82% minimum. Organic cocoa, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter."
Allergen-related information: "May contain traces of milk, nuts and soy." (Organic, certified by CCPAE.)
Basque Cuisine and Marquise au Chocolat
I imagined a (virtual) walk through Barcelona today to taste the flavors of cacao, passing examples of Gaudi's colorful sculptural architecture along the way, and enjoying great food (and chocolate). One could easily spend a week in this one Catalan city alone.
Within many European countries, regions holds delicious secrets. Both the Catalan region in the south of Spain (Mediterranean coast) and Basque region in the north (on the Cantabrian Sea) share a border with France. Early proximity to ports and prosperous cities enabled access to cacao and a variety of culinary influences; and the results can still be enjoyed today.
In the interest of virtually visiting northern Spain, I made a "real" visit to Le Chalet Basque (San Rafael, CA). The small restaurant offered authentic Basque dishes with a heavy French influence. I enjoyed a piece of their Marquis au Chocolat dessert, to go, after a long walk by the San Francisco Bay. If you're not familiar with this chocolate creation, think: a cross between a cognac flavored, chilled chocolate mousse and the best dark chocolate gelato/ice cream you've tasted. It was heaven in a take-out box.
*Note: Percentages listed on chocolate packaging do not always correlate with flavor in the way that people expect. Variations in flavor can be due to variety of cocoa beans used, amounts of added cocoa butter or cocoa solids/cocoa powder, and other factors. There may also be minor differences in labeling requirements and terminology in different countries.
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