For me to spend £4.95 on a 25g bar of dark chocolate it has to be from a fantastic chocolatier and from a well renowned bean. And there can’t be any more desirable than the Porcelana varietal of the Criollo cacao bean – although, others may disagree. The New York Times back in 2003 called it ‘the world’s most expensive chocolate’, now I don’t know if that’s still the case, probably someone in the Middle East will decide to take that accolade? But what I do know is that it’s a fantastic example of fine chocolate and it makes the hard work going into look after the Porcelana trees well worth it.
The Porcelana used to make this bar is processed somewhat at the Hacienda San Jose estate which you can see photos of below, whilst the Porcelana I don’t actually think is native to the estate, but comes from further to the west and around Lago de Maracaibo. I could be wrong though, but I doubt this is as pure Porcelana as can be found in Venezuela.
Anyhow, the packaging looks just the same as those overly-priced cosmetics I’ve just spent a fortune on for my wife’s birthday. It looks exclusive, but in no way does it try and convince those note experienced in the world of fine chocolate that this is indeed made with top quality cacao. There are no superlatives on the packaging, all you get is ‘Domori’, ‘Porcelanda’ and ‘Cacao Criollo’, and I love it for that. The golden packaging is the only visual indicator for the trained eye that this might actually be a fine chocolate bar – that and the price!
There is one thing I don’t like about the Domori Porcelana and that’s is the cost: for the £4.95 you’ll part with you’ll only get force squares of chocolate, each weighing about 6g – and that has to suffice. If you approach this bar in the Japanese way then this could be tolerated, but if you’re like me that can never get enough of ‘gourmet’ chocolate then you’ll quickly be left disappointed. Furthermore, as there’s so little of it you’re left inclined just to nibble at it which, to me, doesn’t give you enough opportunity to get a true indication of the quality of the texture. I like to have a small bit to explore the flavour and then larger ones to try out the melt and mouth feel. Here, I’d only get the one chance to try that out and then it’d be gone.
Before reviewing this bar I was asked to rub coconut stuff into my wife’s back so my hands, even after washing, are completely overpowered by that aroma. But whilst trying an alternative strategy of not using my hands I do get the bread and butter with jam notes that others have expressed, but I also do get an acidic edge of Burgundy as well. It just offers a wonderfully soft, understated scent that is very pleasant.
The best way to enjoy this Domori Porcelana I feel it just to place half a square in your mouth and let it melt. This lets the true nature of the chocolate to come out without being too diluted by your saliva, if you can achieve this without chewing you’ll get a wonderful, characterful bitterness that should last a good 30 seconds or so. There is also a delightful acidity reminiscent of pinewood and edges of hazelnut and honey. It becomes incredibly smooth as layers of flavour are transported around your mouth. It really is superb to the extreme. There’s nothing untoward, nothing obtuse and nothing that stands out from the overall flavour profile. I just love it.