Connoisseurs regularly state that the best chocolate comes from the Criollo variant of cocoa tree. In fact there are three different varieties of cocoa tree: the Forastero which is the most common type and is preferred by the mass-producers as it offers a high yield, but the down side is that it doesn’t offer the most in terms of flavour. Another variety of Criollo which far more susceptible to disease and disaster and also has a significantly lower yield – although it offers the most interesting flavours. And there’s also the Trinitario which is a cross between the two other varieties and offers greater yields than the criollo but a less robust flavour.
The problem here is that only about 1% of worldwide cocoa production is that of the Criollo cocoa variety – and that’s a huge problem for the fine chocolate industry as we just can’t get enough of it. Especially as many chocolate connoisseurs rave about dark chocolate labelled with Chuao and Porcelana.
Both of these varieties originate from Venezuela with Chuao initially only being limited to the Amedei brand. But now Pralus, Amano and Pierre Hermé in France are getting in on the act after the exclusive deal that Amedei had come to an end. But Chuao actually comes from a relatively small plantation in the Aragua plantation in the northern part of Venezuela and close to the Parque Nacional Henri Pittier Rancho Grande national park.
Even though there was a great deal of exclusivity about the Chuao cocoa and I’ve tried the Amedei and Amano varieties, I don’t think it’s as good as the Procelana. I’ve got the Pralus Chuao bar to review, so we’ll have to see how that is.
Porcelana is widely regarded as the purest form of the Criollo bean and exhibits a white appearance and relatively smooth outer texture to the pod compared with other varieties and originates from an area to the south of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The name Porcelana came from the porcelain-like appearance but was called Maracaibo in the colonial era. The Amedei Porcelaina is often called the world although Domori and Beschle do Porcelana bars too.
But we shouldn’t forget some very fine bars made with the Trinitario variety such as the Carenero bean which is also from Venezuela – check out the excellent Beschle Caranero Superior and the Rio Caribe been which Domori do a great bar with. The Ocumare is also worthwhile trying if you get the chance. Domori and Beschle do and so do a wonderful bar, and so does Amano.
I’ve not mentioned Valrhona so far and they’re widely regarded as one of the best chocolatiers. I can’t find them doing the Valrhona Porcelana del Pedregal or even the Valrhona Chuao 64% anymore, but they were supposed to be very good. If you were looking for a good Valrhona bar from Venezuela consider the Valrhona 64% Dark Chocolate Plantation Palmira.
So, for a slightly longer than a short answer I’d say that Venezuela produces the best chocolate. But don’t forget other nations. Cuba produces some great cocoa and you should try the Chapon Pur Origine Cuba 75%. Also the Pralus Trinidad. is a great bar of chocolate. But if you want to try something a bit different go for the Artisan du Chocolat Vientam 72% bar.
Photo © Amano Artisan Chcoolate
No related posts.Lee McCoy