Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Spinnaker Chocolate - 70% Belize with Nibs and Salt (bar) - Jan. 3, 2023

Chocolate of the Day

Spinnaker Chocolate
70% Belize with Nibs and Salt (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 130 calories in 1/2 bar (per label)
Cost: $12.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Spinnaker Chocolate, online order

Welcome to Day #3 of Chocolate and Belize Theme Week.

Today's 70% Belize Nibs and Salt (bar) was made by Spinnaker Chocolate (Seattle, WA) using cacao from Maya Mountain Cacao in southern Belize. 

This is the 3rd Belize bar featured this week from Spinnaker. All have been well above average. Like every bean-to-bar chocolate that "scores" very well, today's makers started with sourcing great beans, and followed a very rigorous chocolate making process to ensure the best results possible.

They have, e.g., built some of their own sorting equipment* to further ensure that no off flavors happen and they roast cocoa nibs vs. cocoa beans.**

Aroma notes for this bar included: Criollo-like (cacao variety) smooth chocolate; complex and layered fruit (dried peach and light tropical fruits, dried goji and red berries, very faint date); and fresh bread with jam and salted butter.

Flavor: deep, appealing chocolate with complex fruit notes. Flavor notes included: "true" chocolate (freshly roasted and ground cacao, deep dark chocolate brownies with cacao nibs (with mild woodsy nut aspects) that balanced out the natural sweetness of the mixed fruits (dried stone fruits (peaches, red plums), sweet citrus, very faint sweet tropical fruit and ripe red berries). 

There was a fleeting earthiness in one bite (likely from one nib), but otherwise it was awash in waves of bright, beautiful freshly baked fruity chocolate sunshine, and quite low in bitterness.

All this flavor was balanced with a perfectly balanced, judicious dose of sea salt. The Pure Flake Finishing Salt from Jacobsen Salt Co. (Portland, OR) contributed subtle, warm saline sparkles. When you have a cacao that is this flavorful, every inclusion must be thought about carefully.

Ingredients: Cacao, organic cane sugar, cocoa nibs, sea salt flakes.

Allergen-related information: Processed in a facility that uses milk powder and nuts.

*Without exception, all my favorite bean-to-bar chocolates have been made by chocolate makers who have been driven (some would say obsessed) with their process and machinery, right down to the micron level. 

And all who have been willing to show me how they operate in their factory will stand with pride (rightfully so) next to equipment they have either created themselves or finely tuned with a great deal of precision. Hats off and a deep bow for their dedication.

**Cacao beans may vary enough in size that a single roasting profile may not roast all beans equally; whereas grinding the cacao beans into smaller, more evenly sized cacao nib pieces may result in more even, predictable flavor. 

Note: My question was would the greater surface to mass ratio of the pieces vs. the whole cacao bean in the roasting process result in the loss of more volatile flavors. However, the makers at Spinnaker Chocolate seem to be very carefully choosing gentle roasting profiles.

 And, the proof is in the results. The resulting chocolates (based on the Belize bars I've tasted this week) have been very flavorful and wonderful.

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