I’ve been buying chocolate from Chocolate Trading Co. for three or four years. I’ve even done some consulting for them in the past, but I’ve never actually tried any of their own brand chocolate bars. I’ve certainly tried their Easter eggs which are just fantastically original and delicious, but when it comes to their fine chocolate bars I’ve just not managed to get around to it (they sell fantastic brands that keep distracting me). So when I found out that this bar and their Madagascan 72% cocoa bar on a gold star each in the Great Taste Awards I cheekily asked them to send the bars over to review of which Paul and Gareth duly obliged.
I know the two of them take their chocolate very seriously and I know they’re purists so I’ll treat this bar with the utmost reverence. But, at first I was disappointed with the packaging. I then realised that if its ok for Paul A. Young to wrap his bars in cellophane with a label on and its ok for Jean-Paul Hévin do the same but place it in an “envelope” then it’d be only right for me not to be overly critical on this score.
On the reverse of the bar there’s a nice story about their chocolate ethos and how they like pure, unadulterated chocolate, how there’s no artificial flavourings or preservatives; and for most that would heighten people’s anticipation for what’s inside.
Now this bar is actually made in France and I couldn’t help think that there was a strong resemblance to the Jean-Paul Hévin bars – but that must have just been co-incidence – how different can a gourmet bar of dark chocolate be? That aside, the colour of the chocolate was superb, being nicely dark but still keeping the characteristic brown colour. There might not be as great a shine as the Pierre Hermé Chuao 70% but is more reminiscent of the Pralus Indonesie 75% Cocoa and I know that I like a nice natural shine on a bar of chocolate, but, of course, I’m more interested in how it tastes.
On this score the bar was absolutely fantastic. I love dark chocolate with a slight sweet, caramel tone to it; and this bar hits that mark perfectly. The aroma is slightly balsamic, but this isn’t followed through into the flavour. This, is the opposite: there’s a wonderful peanut butter note which gives it an incredible richness. However, as that reduces, a fruity edge comes out and reminds me a fruit jam I had as a child but can’t quite place right now – it could have been blackcurrant, or plum?
I also loved the texture. It has an incredibly long melt that holds the flavour throughout and which displays an ever-so slight bitterness at the end. And the flavours last a long time after the chocolate has disappeared. This is a bar that keeps on giving.
And when you add the incredibly loud and crisp – not unlike the Amano Ocumare 70%, it all combines into a fantastic bar of dark chocolate. For some dark chocolate purists it may not be as bitter as they’d like. They’d probably not like the rich, butteriness of it. They probably wouldn’t like the fact that there’s no acidic aroma or the fact that there’s no Beschle-style packaging. But, to be honest, I don’t care. I love this bar. I love the sweetness, I love the richness and I’m very fond of the texture.
Many may not wish to try this bar as it’s an “in house” label. But just this once, step out of your comfort zone, step back away from the Amano, the Valrhona, the Michel Cluizel, the Pralus and the Domori, give this bar a whirl.