If you know Belgian chocolate, then I am quite sure you have heard of Neuhaus. A large bean-to-bar company with wide distribution who are well known for their pralines and truffles.
With history stemming back all the way to 1875, including inventing the praline which in Belgium is a truffle but still called a praline, in 1912 and creating royal collections specially made in 1960 for they have a long standing history and reputation for fine Belgian chocolates.
In 1912, Jean Neuhaus junior, grandson of the founder, took over the business. He gave free rein to his creativity and invented the first filled chocolate bouchée, which he named "praline".
A little clarification on Truffles, Pralines, and Bonbon's via The Nibble.
- As mentioned on Page 1, in 1912, Jean Neuhaus created the molded, filled chocolate bonbon and called these filled chocolate shells pralines, the same word used to describe the caramelized almonds that had been made by the French (and known to the Belgians, who speak French) since 1636. The word praline in French refers to the sugar-coated almond. Why did Neuhaus use the same word for his filled bonbons? We don’t know, but it sure has created confusion ever since.
This bar comes from their Origine collection. São Tomé and Principe are islands off the coast of Gabon right near the equator in the Gulf of Guinea. It's a Portuguese-speaking nation with São Tomé being the larger southern island.
Check out this post about São Tomé and Principe called "Chocolate Island" from Sarahan Vibe.
Bean Varietal: Not indicated, possible Forastero.
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, soya lecithin.
Sample Size: 100g or 3.5oz
Lot #: 09259
Appearance: Square bar with simple "N" monogram, a bit dusty from chocolate particles and a small corner nick that ruins the smooth shiny appearance. Deep dark brown color.
Snap: Deep firm crisp snap, clean but asymmetrical break lines.
Aroma: Big coconut aroma, coffee beans, almonds, wood, small floral hints. Smells like a fresh and natural Almond Joy. Huge coconuts but mixed in with roasted cocoa and coffee beans. Amazing aroma.
Taste: Nutty, wood characters up front, cinnamon, coconuts, almonds, dry, mildly bitter, no acidity, a little hint of smokiness and a bright green character towards the finish. Slight hints of bananas. Big roasted cocoa finish through retro-olfaction.
Texture: Smooth, creamy, a bit waxy, but still very smooth, medium melt time.
I am sure some of the chocolate purists will turn their noses up to a mass produced Belgian chocolate producer, but this is the second single origin bar from a mass produced company that really hits all the right marks. It's not as raw as a smaller chocolate maker might produce, but that makes it a bit more palatable for the masses. There isn't anything wrong with that, but as I said some chocolate purists might turn their snobby noses up at that notion that chocolate can be flavorful and delicious and not so overly nuanced.
This bar had an amazing aroma of almonds and coconuts, and a big wood taste with ripe green features and spicy notes. It finishes creamy and soft like most Belgian chocolate do. It had a bit of a waxy texture but it only lasted for a second.
This is chocolate you want to start a good tasting with. It's very solid for an beginning taste and then you want to work yourself into more raw and less refined chocolates.
I can see this being a work chocolate. The one you keep in your desk and take small bites off of when you desperately need a chocolate break. It's mild enough for that kind of thing, but complex enough in it's flavors to satisfy a deep craving.
Final Score: 93.6