Far to the east of the Peruvian capital of Lima lies the town of Pichanki and the CEPROAP (Central de Productores Agroecológicos Pichanaki) Co-operative which I believe is the source of the cocoa used in this very smooth and elegant 100% chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. This move of the iconic British chocolate company into the fringes of chocolate production more commonly occupied by directly-sourced chocolate makers in the US and the rest of Europe is very much welcome. What’s also appreciated is their desire to educate people which might not be all that aware of the role that co-operatives and individual growers in the nether-regions of under-developed countries play in the creation of their luxurious treats.
It appears that Angus and the guys at Hotel Chocolat do recognise that there is a massive, and generally untapped, demand for great origin chocolate – certainly at the high cocoa level which has been produced by a trusted brand. And I hope that if people that might not have tried 100% chocolate in the past and who have been enthused by Hotel Chocolat’s wonderful and engaging staff to try this bar in store would in turn be encouraged to broaden their horizons and try other great intense origin chocolate from less well-known producers. For their efforts I certainly do applaud what they’re doing. The more chocolate sold where the cacao is produced from fine flavour cacao the better. This is just the start.
In terms of the 100% Pichanaki, I was very much impressed with the clear and direct flavours. The roast felt heavy but that earthy, leather, tobacconist characteristic often defines Peruvian cocoa. There are edges of Lumi and a dash of caramel and a finish quite squarely of Dijon mustard. Whilst the aroma seems more reminiscent of Madagascan fruitiness – albeit on a much softer scale. The texture, when left in the mouth to melt naturally was sensational. After the melt there is certainly an arid feel, which is only to be expected. Overall, this is an incredibly enjoyable high-cocoa chocolate.
I still have reservations with the moulding of the chocolate. It seems they can’t get away from their desire to be unique in the bar format and keeping to the style that works well for their more mainstream chocolate. Of course that’s just my opinion and others may appreciate the unconventional approach to serious chocolate.
Without a doubt this is a very pleasant interpretation of both Peruvian and high-cocoa chocolate that if enjoyed as directed should enthuse others to try their other 100% chocolate.
You can pick it up online or in-store in both 70g or 35g formats for either £7 or £3 respectively.