Saturday, February 3, 2024

Seattle Chocolate - jcoco - 85% Single Varietal Contamana Cacao Peruvian dark (bar) - Feb. 3, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Seattle Chocolate Company
jcoco - 85% Single Varietal Contamana Cacao Peruvian dark (bar)
Good ++ - Good +++
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) / 3 oz. (85 g.) in total package of 3 bars
Calories: 155 (estimate) calories in 1 small bar
Cost: $9.99 for 1 package of 3 smaller bars
Purchased from: Seattle Chocolate, online order 

Welcome to Day #5 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's jcoco 85% Single Varietal Contamana Cacao Peruvian dark (bar) was from Seattle Chocolate Company, Inc. (Seattle, WA) and was one of three identical, individually-wrapped bars contained in an attractively blue-purple hued, larger package. 

The Contamana* variety cacao used to make this bar was from the central-southern area of Peru (Cuzco region) in Quillabamba, in a valley (not that far from Machu Picchu), known for "its unique fine aroma cacao trees."

Aroma notes for this chocolate included: dark chocolate (rich cocoa); faint (muffled) fruit (ripe blackberry); subtle, balanced and fleeting rich, loamy + peat/tannic earth; and very faint botanical.

Texture: This well-tempered bar broke with a snap. The texture was pleasing and creamy smooth with the exception of a few very tiny crunchy (nib) particles in one bite. There was also a very faint, fleeting and very well-balanced tannic astringency.

Flavor notes included: flavorful dark chocolate (dark cocoa) with subtle, complex fruit (dark/red berry, citrus (faint lime), tropical fruit: cacao pulp); very faint botanicals (light spice); and balanced earth/light tannins. The finish was light, lingering and clean, especially for an 85%er.

What I liked about this bar: 1.) opportunity to try a single region, single varietal (Contamana) Peru chocolate; 2.) relatively smooth and approachable 85% ultra-dark chocolate with complex, interesting and balanced aroma and flavor notes; 3.) the maker's choice of a low roast**; and 4.) attractive packaging + three smaller, individually-wrapped bars that made it easy to share with/gift to others.

Ingredients: cracked cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin).

Allergen-related information: "This product is manufactured in a plant that processes milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg and wheat products."

*Contamana is a rare variety of cacao; and one of many varieties of cacao from South America (the birthplace of cacao). Just as there are many varieties of grapes used to make wine, there are many varieties of cacao that can be used to make chocolate.

**Maker's notes: "fermentation: 6 days; drying 5 days; roast: low"


Dick Taylor - Limited Release 80% Dark Peru Piura Blanco (bar) - Feb. 2, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Dick Taylor
Limited Release 80% Dark Peru Piura Blanco (bar)
Good ++
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) / 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 170 calories in 1/2 bar
Cost: $13.00 for 1 bar
Purchased from: Bar and Cocoa, online order

Welcome to Day #4 of Chocolate and Peru Week.

Today's Limited Release 80% Dark Peru Piura Blanco (bar) was made by Dick-Taylor Craft Chocolate (Eureka, CA). The cacao used to make this single origin bar was from the Puerto Pulache Community Cooperative in northeast Peru.

After tasting raw (100%) cacao White Piura (Piura Blanco) Peru cacao beans earlier this week, I was looking forward to tasting a dark chocolate made from similar cacao. I was expecting relatively delicate, nuanced flavors with red fruit/red apple notes. 

This 80% chocolate Piura Blanco bar went boldly beyond that expectation, and illustrated how significant roasting, conching and other maker choices can be.

Aroma notes included: roasted ultra-dark chocolate with medium fruit acidity and very faint green (nut, tea, wood) notes. 

I highly recommend letting this chocolate breathe a little after you open the inner wrapper, and re-tasting after it's been opened for at least 30 minutes. More subtle notes emerged in aroma and flavor. After this package was open for 30 minutes, the deep chocolate (fudge) note(s) came forward, and the heavy roast aroma seemed to recede a bit. 

And after 45 minutes there were some pleasant, faint gingerbread chocolate and other notes (botanical, sweet green) in the aroma. It's worth the wait to enjoy the complexity. The finish seemed to grow longer (or notes in the finish became more detectable) as well. Not quite a shape-shifter bar, but close!

Flavor notes included: bold 80% cacao ultra-dark (dark roast), deep chocolate-y, followed by a significant blush of tart apple (fruit acidity) and charcoal (at least initially), and ending with a relatively mellow/sweeter (floral, date, caramel) finish with smaller upticks of tart fruit (apple). (Later there were also very faint red wine notes in the finish as well.)

Maker's tasting notes: Aroma: Fudge; Flavor: Crisp Apple; Finish: Dates.

Ingredients: Cacao, Cane Sugar* (*Organic)

Allergen-related information: "Made in a facility that also processes milk, tree nuts, wheat, and peanuts."

Meridian Cacao - Peru Cuzco, Cacao Beans - Feb. 1, 2024

Chocolate of the Day

Meridian Cacao
Peru - Cusco Raw Cacao Beans 
Good ++
Weight: .5 oz. (14.1 g.) / 2.2 lbs. (1 KG) in total package
Calories: 78 calories (estimate) in .5 oz. serving*
Cost: $15.00 for 1 large package of cacao beans
Purchased from: Meridian Cacao, online order

Welcome to Day #8 of Cacao Nibs Theme Week, and Day #3 of Chocolate and Peru Theme Week.

Today's Peru Cuzco Raw Cacao Beans were from Meridian Cacao (Portland, OR). 

Meridian Cacao directly sources single origin cacao beans (from several countries); and they offer beans, cacao nibs, cocoa butter, and other craft chocolate-making essentials. 

Yesterday and today, I "made" my own raw cacao nibs, from these Peru raw cacao beans. Raw cacao tastes different than roasted cacao. The beans had a more uniform, and deeper dark color once the skin/husk remnants were removed.

Aroma notes for these raw cacao beans included: fresh cacao, subtle fermentation (wine-like) that diminished after opening, and faint green floral.

Texture: satisfying; firm, nut-like crunch; even texture. Unlike yesterday's White Piura beans which were very easy to shell/break into pieces by hand, today's Cuzco beans took a little more effort. (These beans were wrapped into a towel and gently thumped with a small hammer.)

Flavor notes included: smooth, very slightly nutty cocoa flavor with light, balanced sweet green floral, and cookie (coconut oatmeal cookie, graham cracker).

Raw cacao tastes different than roasted cacao. I really enjoyed these high-quality, minimally processed cacao beans, with original flavors intact, just right out of the bag. 

Both yesterday's and today's Meridian Peru beans/nibs would make a great chocolate bar, confection, or high-end snack.  If you like dark chocolate, I highly recommend sampling different varieties (and origins) of high-quality cacao beans (side-by-side). Meridian is a great source for cacao beans.

Ingredients: Raw cacao beans

Allergen-related information: (none listed on package)

*Estimates of calorie counts (kcals) for raw cacao beans range from 130-180. I'm using 155 calories per ounce here to estimate calories. The fat content (cacao butter) varies with different growing locations (climate, latitude) as well as cacao variety and other variables. E.g., cacao grown at the cooler, outer edges of the cacao growing zone (more than 20 degrees from the Equator) may contain more fat.


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