Sometimes I like the imperfections of my pictures. I haven't mastered the art of lighting yet. But with a high gloss package from Amano, dark setting in my apt. due to eco lights which I truly despise, and needing a flash to capture the details for this pic, I have covered all flaws you can imagine with this one shot. Finger prints on the package, blurry top, and a reflection of the flash. I am getting good. Note the sarcasm here.
Image via SeventyPercent.com art work by Diane Whitehead.
Seventy Percent also wrote a really good detailed blog about Art Pollard's journey with working with Chuao beans.
Special Edition Chocolate from Amano. The infamous Chuao bar. 70% dark chocolate.
Now, a couple of things to take notice of, major shift in price on these bars of chocolate. This let's you know that these are pretty rare beans or at least very pricey beans. A normal bar from Amano runs about $6.95. Specialty bars arounf $8.95. This one runs for about $9.95 not including mark ups from various retailers. I made notice of this on another bar of Chuao I recently tasted. It was relatively cheap for such a special bar of chocolate. If it's so rare and illusive then why is it not being charged for as much? They responded and assured me that it wasn't cheap for them to get. A small, inconsequential, observation, but one that gets me thinking.
No word on genetic testing for this bar either. It's important to note that as Chuao is an infamous chocolate region that produces highly rare and pure Criollo beans, but also a lot of hybrid varietals. Amano's packaging does mention Criollo, but doesn't say pure Criollo. Even if the beans are from this region, that doesn't guarantee that they are in fact pure Criollo. It's becoming quite easy for people to stamp Criollo on their packaging without anything to really verify that it is. On this matter though I still give Amano more credit as their history and work ethics with cocoa farmers in South America is truly commendable. I have no doubt that they do get very hands on with the farmers and know inside and out the kinds of beans they are working with. Still an authentic stamp of approval is becoming a necessity these days to weed out the poseurs.
There is this note from Art Pollard himself on their website explaining how he has worked extensively with these beans. Unfortunately, I still think we need more proof. Chocolate is trendy now and there is becoming more of an understanding of regions and varietals. It sucks to put such good chocolate complanies on blast, but again if your work is true and pure, prove it and be done with the questions.
The Chocolate Maker's Notes:
It is not often that one has the opportunity to work with true greatness. From Amano's inception we have worked with the world's greatest cocoa. The farmers we work with truly care for their trees, their cocoa and are the very best there are. Even so, there has always been one cocoa sorely lacking -- Chuao. Famous for its cocoa since at least the 1600's Chuao's flavor has become legend. Many consider Chuao's cocoa to be the world's best; no American chocolate maker had ever released a chocolate with these beans.
I spent an extensive amount of time conducting tests and researching the flavor properties of Chuao's beans. I did not want to release a chocolate until I felt I had fully understood the beans flavor and how each of the flavor notes interacted with each step of our process. Additionally, I did not want us to release the chocolate until I felt confident that the finished chocolate would be better than the best Chuao chocolate yet made. I believe I have achieved both of these goals. The flavor of the finished chocolate is amazing and has top chefs with whom I have shared samples raving. I believe that this very special chocolate will do the same for you.
Founder, Head Chocolate Maker
Type: Bittersweet, 70%
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans.
Sample Size: 2oz or 56g
Lot #: 3/4/83B
Appearance: Monogrammed molding, square tablets, ashy in appearance and a muted, matte surface.
Snap: Very solid and firm snap, crisp snap sound and clean break lines.
Aroma: Softer, sweet nose, lightly spicy, berries, a little inky, nutty, soft floral overtones. There were a big more dry and tannic aromas once I snapped a piece off.
Taste: Sweet sugars right up front, bold and bright blueberries, plums and a bit of pen ink mixed in. Tasting notes on the package suggest almonds and molasses as well as the blueberries and plums. I am not tasting molasses and the almonds are there but ever so slightly and a little toasted. Might be more dominate the more fresh the bar is. A soft floral aftertaste that lingers a bit on the palate.
No astringency or acidity to speak of for such a high percentage of cocoa in this bar. Very mild.
Texture: A little grainy at first be smooths out to a super creamy and soft texture with a medium melt time.
I am totally fascinated by the big blueberry taste on this chocolate. It's kind of amazing tasting blueberries on chocolate. It's so distinctive. The plums were there and the almonds were very subtle and a little toasted but I didn't find molasses on this bar. Just a softer, sweet bar of chocolate with lovely blueberries. There isn't a whole lot of subtleties with this bar. It's pretty straight forward despite being delicate in it's flavors.
Overall, I like the Chuao bars that I have tasted so far. I don't think it's by far the best bar of chocolate I have ever tasted though. I think there is way too much hype around Chuao and Criollo beans. But that's not to say this isn't fantastic chocolate. It's pretty damn good bar and those blueberries are amazing.
Final Score: 92