Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Perugina - Dark Chocolate 51% Cacao Premium Chocolate (bar) - June 21, 2023

Chocolate of the Day

Dark Chocolate 51% Cacao Premium Chocolate (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1.5 oz. (43 g.) / 3 oz. (86 g.) in total bar
Calories: 225 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $4.39 for 1 bar
Purchased from: The Market at Edgewood, Palo Alto, CA

Welcome to Day #10 of Chocolate and Italy Theme Week.

Today's Perugina Dark Chocolate 51% Cacao Premium Chocolate (bar) was manufactured by Nestle Italiana S.p.A., Milano, IT).*

Aroma notes for this chocolate included: smooth, sweet dark chocolate (sweet green floral, vanilla, marshmallow, roasted cocoa, and very faint aromatic smoke/tobacco and malted crisped rice).

The bar had a creamy melt and thick, almost velvety texture.

Flavor notes included: sweet cocoa; chocolate-y (dark chocolate mousse, torte, ganache); sweet vanilla; creamy, sweet hot cocoa/drinking chocolate; and an almost undetectable (very faint, balanced) earth/dense forest (Forastero-like cacao variety) note in the finish.

This chocolate was described on the label as "...a surprisingly gentle and aromatic dark chocolate." 

A gentler flavor and/or smoother texture can be created from a more intense cacao variety in several ways: 1.) alkalize the cacao (neutralizing/reducing natural acidity and bitterness); 2.) conch/grind cacao mass for a longer period of time (reducing particle size and yielding a smoother flavor and texture); 3.) add cocoa butter for natural creaminess and vanilla to mellow/sweeten flavor.

Most small-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate makers who source high-quality (and typically more expensive) single origin cacao beans may add cocoa butter (the fat portion of the cacao bean); but they rarely alkalize cacao or add vanilla to their single origin chocolate bars. As with wine, these makers aim to showcase unique and special varietal flavors, not to produce a uniform flavor year over year.

However, if you've ever done a side-by-side tasting of hot chocolates (made with processed (dry) cocoa powders with and without alkalizing) you'll understand why higher-volume manufacturers choose to "smooth out the rough edges" across different cacao batches/harvests/origins. There are more customers who prefer sweet and smooth cocoa (made with "tamed" cacao that was rougher (or occasionally lower quality) to start with) and at a more affordable price point. 

Today's skillfully executed 51% chocolate falls at the high-end of high-volume chocolate.

Ingredients: Sugar, chocolate** (processed with alkali), cocoa butter**, sunflower lecithin, natural vanilla flavor. (** Rainforest Alliance Certified)

Allergen-related information: "May contain milk and tree nuts."

*Perugina chocolates date back to 1907. Baci-Perugina was created by Luisa Spagnoli in the early 1900s; and the company was acquired by Nestle S.A. (Vevey, Switzerland) in 1988.

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