Chocolate of the Day
Txoko - Madagascar Sambirano Valley 89% Dark (bar)
Good + - Good ++
Weight: 1.2 oz. (35 g.) / 2.4 oz. (70 g.) in total bar
Calories: 190 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $8.00 (estimate) for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order
Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Madagascar Theme Week.
Today's Txoko Madagascar Valle del Sambirano (Sambirano Valley) 89% dark chocolate (bar) was produced by Kaitxo (Balmaseda, Spain).
The company offers specialty coffees and chocolates. This bar was made from cacao grown in the Sambirano Valley area of the island nation of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa.
Aroma notes for this bean-to-bar Madagascar chocolate included: dark chocolate (dark deep chocolate), and dark dried fruit (prune, raisin, fig, and faint apricot).
The chocolate had an even melt and texture.
Flavor notes included: dark chocolate (ultra-dark, almost unsweetened, chocolate brownie); slightly muted dried fruits (prune, raisin, faint apricot); faint earthy forest. A bit later: green (tea); very faint accent flavors of fine leather and tobacco; and very faint (partly imagined) warmed by-the-fire, tea with invisible spices.
Cacao varieties used to make this 3-ingredient chocolate included: Trinitario, Forastero and Criollo. Initially I tasted more Trinitario and Forastero varieties than I did Criollo. But, the very faint presence of bright but subtle stone fruit and some of the other lighter, top notes that surfaced later were akin to Criollo variety cacao.
The resulting chocolate flavors were well balanced and blended, and offered a surprising range of bolder chocolate and darker (almost roasted), relatively acidic fruit notes (think the caramelized edge of a well-done fruit cake that wasn't too sweet).
The initial fruit acidity mellowed considerably after the sealed inner wrapper of this bar had been open for an hour or so to reveal more subtle notes. Do take your time with this bar and enjoy the skillful and subtle layering of flavors.
One last observation: today's Madagascar bar (and yesterday's lower percentage sibling from the same maker) were judiciously sweetened with beet(root) sugar. This presented a very rare opportunity to evaluate what beet sugar tasted like with fine chocolate.
Most chocolate makers use (processed/refined) cane sugar "to avoid adding any flavor" to their chocolates. Less processed sugars (e.g. coconut palm sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple sugar and some beet sugars) retain more of their unique taste/properties, for better or worse.
The subtle beetroot flavor used in this week's Kaitxo chocolate bars seemed to be a relatively good and interesting match with the single origin Sambirano Valley* cacao varieties. One more tiny overlay of barely detectable flavor in what was already the dance of the seven flavor veils.
Maker's tasting notes: spices, red fruits and tobacco
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, (beetroot) sugar, cacao butter
Allergen-related information: May contain traces of peanuts, tree nuts, soy and milk.
*Surrounded by water, the large island nation of Madagascar has a warm, relatively moderate climate with rich volcanic soils in several areas. The northern part of the country (closer to the Equator) is well-suited for growing cacao. And the Sambirano Valley, located in northwest Madagascar not far from the coast, is known for its fine cacao.