Innovation is key to the success of premium quality chocolatiers. Many will churn out average quality products with impunity and are lapped up by a largely unknowing chocolate-buying public. But innovation shouldn’t just rest with the chocolatier taking couverture and playing with new inclusions, it should also rest with the chocolate maker. This is exactly what the Valrhona have done with the two new ‘double fermentation’ lines.
For the past few years, I’ve tried to help chocolate-buyers understand the crucial role fermentation has in the development of the final flavour of chocolate. This stage often goes un-noticed by many chocolate makers. They buy their beans without much of a consideration as to fermentation protocol so it is great that people can have a chocolate to discuss and explore the role of fermentation.
Of course there’s no ‘control’ sample here and we’re not tweaking the fermentation time, conduit or covering, but and addition to part of the process. Valrhona part ferment the cacao in the traditional sense of four to six days in wood, rattan or even concrete boxes. But when this has finished they referment the beans with fruit pulp. The sugars from the fruit will then reinitiate another fermentation process that produces another range of alcohols and imparts a new range of flavours into the wet beans.
The couverture I have here is the Manaka from Madagascar which, for me at least, often does produce an orange-like flavour profile, and decreasingly so the ‘red fruits’ it has become known for. Valrhona has built on those inherent flavours with orange pulp to promote and enhance those natural citrus flavours. Valrhona also produces a Brazil origin chocolate with a passion fruit double fermentation.
What I love about this couverture is that it gives the chocolatier a direct path into seasonal chocolates. The Mananka, for example, has a brilliant base flavour for Christmas chocolates given that you can add a variety of spices with ease to either produce classic bars or even ganaches. Whereas I see the Brazil Itakuja as being more suited to summer, Caribbean-style flavours. Or if you’re just a chocolate-addict with no culinary skills then you can just have a bag of them by your desk and nibble them as you go.