Comparing chocolate made with beans from the same farm is something I love doing. Often that can only be achieved buy having access to a range of makers. Sometimes, however, you get the chance to compare against different cocoa levels. Here we have a 75% version of the 100% Peruvian Pichanaki I reviewed a while ago – and I really did enjoy that one. That chocolate also had a roasting profile of 35 minutes at 139c. This chocolate, however, has a much shorter conching and refining time: 45 hours compared to 60 for the darker bar. To their credit, Hotel Chocolat provide this sort of information on the front of the package and serves to help people understand the complex chocolate making process. Over time their customers should be able to understand how roasting and conching times effect the resultant flavour profile, and hopefully they’ll dig further into looking at the potential flavours offered by different origins.
In the past I’ve commented at how Chocolate Week helps people to really get to know the finer points of great chocolate. I still believe that if there’s one maker that goes the furthest to educate the general public, in an inclusive, manner it has to be Hotel Chocolat*. I’ve also discussed how running a tasting events can be both great fun and an informative experience. In that article I suggested that if people taste chocolate made from a variety of origins or the same intensities with a view to exploring how different chocolate can be radically different even with similar labels their enjoyment of chocolate should only improve. Hotel Chocolat actually makes it incredibly easy to explore chocolate. If you popped into one of their stores you can pick up a number of Rabot 1745 bars and have a look at those labels and choose some to compare.
Many chocolate makers will add tasting notes to their packaging. I actually try not to read them before I taste the chocolate, but you might like to. Compare the flavours that come to mind against those the maker has offered. If they don’t agree just some more and see if you can actually notice them, or if they’re not present at all. Fine chocolate can be radically different. I would pick the Tumbes 75%, also from Peru and see if I could pick out the same flavours.
I didn’t get any of the ‘antique leather’ they mentioned. My first thoughts were of the strawberry sauce coated vanilla ice creams my mother used to buy from Tesco. It was also much lighter than any dark tones I would have expected when they offered ‘essence of 19th century London club’. I do completely agree, however, with the ‘elegant and smooth’ as well as the ‘restrained red fruit’. For me this chocolate was incredibly creamy, not only with the pleasant texture, but also with the flavour. That’s obviously as a result of the milk powder that Hotel Chocolat have added to the mix. Despite being a 75% cocoa solids chocolate it actually has milk included and, therefore, can be classed as a milk chocolate bar. And that’s another great reason as to why exploring chocolate you’ll learn that much of the things people stay about chocolate is often wrong.
But back to the flavour, there wasn’t a great deal of acidity – even at the higher 75% level. That creaminess was the most prominent feature to me. Despite the nose being full of ‘drinks cabinet’ and dark ‘Sunday afternoons’ the usual flavour suspects weren’t produced. That was more ‘late summer evenings’. This is more of a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ chocolate than I can recall. Much later in the melt some of the acidity comes to the fore, but much less than you may expect.
When people say ‘they don’t like 75% chocolate’ place some of this in front of them and some Chapon Madagascar 75% and ask them to compare. One I’m sure they’ll say is just a dark-milk and one they’ll say is more than 80%. And that’s the point. This chocolate is eminently more enjoyable. It’s one that you can whittle through with a loved one in an evening. The other is one for you to sneakily chew a couple of squares.
Although it offers a fantastic texture, at this moment in time I wanted something to throttle my taste buds with acidity. All I got is a loving cuddle.
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