Chocolate that turns your mouth arid is just a marvel to me. The acidity that is drawn over the taste buds is something I also crave. Rolling flavours that focus your mind like a laser from a 1970′s Sci-Fi film onto the pronounced tones is worth paying good money for. Chocolate made from nondescript makers mixed with ingredients that have been sat in a warehouse for a few months are two-a-penny. Craft chocolate is something to behold, to seek and spend a few bob on.
Dandelion ticks far too many of my boxes that it’s uncanny. If I had the budget and skill to make chocolate it would look and taste like this. The packaging is far above that of the Mast Brothers who I feel have become too commercialised, they’ve done well, but I feel have lost their soul. Maya and her team at Dandelion are revelling in theirs.
Let’s run through what I love above the experience. The golden appearance of the packaging is perfect for gift. Their three-bar set comes adorned with a matching ribbon. For those acutely interested in chocolate you have what they believe sets them apart from most chocolate makers on the front. You also get detailed information about who roasted the beans. What you don’t get is a precise location but that leads me onto the third feature that I appreciate: intrigue. I want to know why this chocolate is labelled: Mantuano – for that’s the name that Spanish colonialists in Venezuela gave to aristocratic descendants of the conquerors. Neither Google Maps nor Bing give Mantuano as a locality in Venezuela. Dandelion does offer a wonderful insight into the growers and the co-op website itself provides more information – but no location. The problem is that there’s still not enough stuff for me to mentally chew on – I want to know more.
Previously I ordered some chocolate and it came bloomed within an inch of its life. Maya sent some more over and went the whole nine yards protecting it with foil wrapping, ice packs, a box, packing and more. There was still a touch of blooming but I can only deduce that this is more to do with USPS than the packaging. Whenever I import chocolate to sell I always get the quickest FEDEX available – this costs me a fortune but there’s no point buying tarnished chocolate. When I eventually seek to import Dandelion chocolate I’ll go for the super-fast FedEx. My American readers will be fully aware of these issues and won’t suffer from this European plight – you’ve got so much great chocolate available much more easily than we do.
This chocolate offers as much as a straight bat of a cacao flavour as I can recall for quite some time. There are flashes of soft fruit and cinnamon mixed with a touch of clove and very subtle rolling tobacco I recall from my grandfather mixing up beside me whilst he watched some nonsense on that small, decrepit television. Further to the spicy edges there’s honey that serves as a barrier to the other flavours- nothing else can be found outside of the Montuano solar system. The flavours are constrained and softly diminish as they expand from that core flavour.
The aroma is similarly spicy and earthen. You could spend a good few minutes with it under your nose exploring curious wafts of scent. You’ll be on the Voyager space rocket for the aroma whilst you’re on one of Mr Branson’s near space experiences gorping down at his Neckar Island home with the flavour. Both are beautiful in their own way – one is just more expansive than the other.
We can get all dewy-eyed at chocolate because it’s contained in a nice wrapper, has an interesting story, is only made with cocoa beans plus sugar and provides a living to the people at the sharp end of providing for their families through agriculture. But I did appreciate how straight and tangy it was. It’s been a couple of minutes since the last piece melted and my mouth is still dominated by those tones. It’s not going anywhere and I would go to Mantuano if I knew where the heck it was! Please enlighten me.
Now, if you’re in the States and want to give some very interesting chocolate a whirl, pop over to Dandelion, I’d love to know what you think of it.