Even the greatest sports teams have winning runs that come to an end. I’m not talking of a Tiger Woods style catastrophic loss of form, but the hole in ones that Duffy constantly hit have ended with a double boggy with this 65% Star of The Dominican Republic chocolate bar. Duffy is a great and funny guy. He makes awesome chocolate – and a I mean awesome. But there’s just something amiss with this bar.
Visually the chocolate is just as fantastic as any other. The mould is shallow giving it a lighter crisp snap whilst the shine was exquisite. But when I put it to my nose I knew there was something not quite right. I’m by no means saying it’s anything like the mouldy sandwich Marks and Spencer recently cooked up for my wife, I just think there’s an imbalance with the ingredients.
The aroma reminded me very much of the chemistry lessons at school where a heavy, coloured gas was mixed with a colourless one and the two would separate in a bell jar. Here there was the typical, fruity acidity that much of Duffy’s chocolate has, however, above that was an ozone-type emptiness. It’s like most of those top notes of fragrance had disappeared. Through process or nature it just didn’t feel right.
The prominence of this ‘issue’ seems to change with every square. The only ingredient I can put it down to is the sunflower lecithin used as those superfluous tones are very similar to sunflower seeds. Now I could be talking utter rubbish and putting two and two and getting David Beckham’s tax bill, but the whole top range is dominated by that sensation.
There’s also a strange alkali, almost soapy, edge which also masks the true ‘chocolate’ flavours which I can feel trying to break through. The tasting notes mention strawberries which I can just about make out at the front of my mouth, near my lips, but I don’t get get any ‘rich smoky Lapsang souchong’.
After the fantastic Nicaragua Chuno bar I had hopped this one would be equally gorgeous. Alas, it might just show the inherent variability possible with small batch chocolate making. When I was judging for the Academy of Chocolate last year I could recognise some of the world’s greatest chocolate makers from branding or the shape of the mould and I would think: ‘how could XYZ produce so dire chocolate’. Cocoa beans and all other ingredients are subject of nature’s own variability, and I suggest that’s just what has happened here.
For those wishing to check how their bars have tasted, and for Duffy himself to do a bit of sampling if he has any left, the batch number was 120006. If you did want to try for yourself to see I’ve got this bar completely wrong, you can get some here.