Damn you Duffy. Not only do you make me chuckle, but you also create some simple, but stunning chocolate. Obviously he’s onto a winner as he’s using Criollo cacao beans but it still takes a great deal of know-how, trial and error and patience to create such excellent dark chocolate.
He gave me this bara few days before it went on sale exclusively through Paul A. Young’s shops and was eager to review it as soon as I could. But seeing as I’d spent a day reviewing chocolate at the Academy of Chocolate Conference and then 24 brownies at the Great Brownie Back Off, I needed a couple of days to recover. Even though I was given some chocolate from some fine brands over those two days, I just had to give his a go before any others as I’ve loved the others he’s produced such as the Peru, Ecuador plus his Corazon bar.
Duffy seems to be playing around with his packaging: moving from mountains, to plain yellow and then on to this Mayan-style design. But it’s what’s inside that counts. To my mind it is the archetypal dark chocolate bar that reminds me of the dark chocolate I used to be given as a child. I have no idea what the brands I was exposed to back then, but this Honduras bar was a carbon copy of my memories – and as they say we typically romantise about our past then this can only be a good thing.
The aroma is definitively of caramel but it’s the flavour that I love the most. I’m a huge fan of marmalade – I love it on big, thick slices of toast and that bar faithfully replicates that with a well-balanced bitterness you get from the thick-rind marmalade you get when you manage to get a jar home-made from a relative.
I also get an alcoholic sensation too. In my youth I was partial to the odd glass of port (as you do at that age – or not!) and I can pick up some tannin edges that draws the moisture out your mouth. It’s no way near as bitter as other bars at the 72% level, but it’s not as placid and creamy as the Chapon bars are. What’s more, it a completely different beast to the Jamaican bars from Amedei and Artisan du Chocolat – this is the “vegetarian” cousin to those meaty, Bovril-like versions.
The benefit of this intense, but not extreme flavour is that it’s more of a session bar that I initially thought. Throughout the day I’ve been picking at it whilst I work and have not “had my fill”. I could easily keep going. There may not be a multi-layer taste sensation, but what it does it does very well. It may not be as smooth and creamy as the French bars I’ve tried – but how long have they been making chocolate? Comparatively, top marks goes to Duffy.