Ever since I moved to New Mexico four years ago, everyone told me that chocolate and the desert do not mix. Although this is true for the most part, I think they forgot about such amenities as ice packs, air conditioners, and overnight delivery, which are formidable allies against the desert sun. As vital as they are, though, I had to say goodbye when I left New Mexico last week for overcast Oregon.
Recently, a friend from Germany sent me a Porcelana bar produced by Bonnat. This bar has been circulating for a couple months now in Germany and only recently has it become available at Chocosphere in America. At a whopping 100g, the bar is larger than most bars of Porcelana composition, and the price certainly shows.
Chocovic’s latest entry into the chocolate world comes in four bars (or four couvertures—more on that below), but the white chocolate selection is what I want to talk about for now. Jaina, at 31% cacao, is unique among white chocolate bars in that it contains a curious ingredient that delivers a distinctly unusual flavor that many people may be unfamiliar with in chocolate. “What is it?,” you ask? “Yogurt powder,” I tell you. It may be meager in quantity but it has an enormous impact, adding an odd and seemingly out of place sourness that is more fitting in a Ritter Sport bar, to be sure.
Until now I have only fallen in love with unflavored dark bars (including some select milk bars as well) and was relatively intractable by the flavored variations thereof. However, I recently got my hands on an Amedei I Frutti bar, particularly the white chocolate version studded with chopped pistachios (Toscano White with Pistachios), and after finishing the bar in one day I must admit that I have a new love in my life.
Cuyagua is a remote valley in Venezuela that neighbors Ocumare de la Costa. Historically, beans from this area have not been plentiful enough for companies to produce chocolate regularly. In fact, supply has been so low that the only company to produce a pure Cuyagua bar has been Scharffen Berger, and they did it twice in different years. Well, move over Scharffen Berger; Amano has a wonderful surprise for everyone: a Cuyagua 70% bar, which is also limited edition.
A few days ago, I received two bars of chocolate in the mail from Alan McClure of Patric Chocolate. I knew about Alan from the Seventypercent forums and for a while he had been developing his site, which I checked on periodically to see if progress had been made. Well, after not checking for quite some time—and not knowing what he was up to—it was surprising to learn he was making chocolate from the bean.
It has been stated by many consumers (me included) that Amedei has the superior Chuao, while Bonnat’s is a close second. Well, I recently got my hands on a Valrhona Chuao from 2002 and was somewhat eager to try it. I say “somewhat” because I tasted the 2003 vintage in its final days and was sorely disappointed. The chocolate was unlike any Chuao I had tasted previously, and I wasn’t sorry to see that origin go the wayside.