Raw chocolate is what I call the ‘Marmite of chocolate’ – you’ll either love it or hate it. In the chocolate reviewing world I feel it’s always best to not be prejudiced about any type of chocolate, and certainly not the chocolate made by companies trying to be innovative and offer something different. So, with the help of Piotr Krzciuk I was sent these three small ‘raw’ chocolate bars all the way from Poland.
Their website details the struggle they’ve had to get this chocolate into production given that many individuals in Poland refused to help with the processing of the cocoa beans, stating that ‘raw’ chocolate isn’t actually chocolate, but just an inferior, associated product. Undeterred they pushed on, outsourcing the construction of their grinder and putting together a production facility. Of course heat is produced is used in this process as this is a vital factor in turning cocoa nibs into ‘liquor’. Unfortunately this is a necessary process, or you would never be able to produce anything that looked like a typical chocolate bar.
Skipping a few processes, they then conch for 48-or so hours. There’s no specific time set as Zotter and Hotel Chocolat state with their higher quality bars. They do, however, divulge that the temperature doesn’t exceed 45°c which would add another layer of ‘cooking’ along with the grinding process. Furthermore this conching process is another vital one in the production of chocolate – even raw chocolate as it changes its chemical composition, as well as the amount of water and acids being reduced.
I believe this may also hint at the method of minimising the acidity. I’m wondering the Dutch process was used with the addition of alkali? Just because I got a very slight ammonia flavour at the back of my mouth, nothing too obvious, but certainly there. It seems that there’s a compromise between not wanting to go over 45°c and then using other methods to bring the flavours into line.
For me raw chocolate always has a ‘tinny’ (akin to tin) aroma and flavour. It’s like clasping a sheet of tin foil between your teeth. Here there’s certainly that aroma, but not the flavour. It actually tastes more like ‘real’ chocolate than I would have thought – despite still being ‘rich in magnesium, potassium and iron’ from the palm sugar, which was used as an alternative to cane sugar. Although the chocolate itself might be relatively less acidic than other raw chocolate, the goji berries have certainly raised it as this fruit certainly is tart.
Perhaps this bar is George Osborne of chocolate: what it gives with one hand, it takes with another. But ultimately that would be unfair. If there’s any one raw chocolate bar that I’ve tried in the past couple of years ago that I’ve actually very much enjoyed, it’s this one – mainly because it doesn’t actually taste ‘raw’. There’s the beautiful flavour of the certified organic Peruvian Criollo beans not only used in the chocolate itself, but also the nibs liberally scattered on top.
Although this bar is cold-pressed it actually tastes more sophisticated than the relatively rudimentary processes used. There’s some richness, depth and rusticity which still offers a nod to those who appreciate the raw chocolate flavour, but also some ‘normality” for those that prefer conventional chocolate. But do I like it? I really do like it, and if it weren’t for the cocoa nibs on the top and a need to avoid the caffeine contained within, I would have easily finished this bar off.