As we continue our taste test through chocolate we could potentially stock, but need to actually try out first to see if it’s good enough, we come across another Hungarian bean-to-bar chocolate maker. This means that they actually buy unroasted cocoa beans, roast them and do the rest of the process themselves.
We already stock a wonderful Hungarian chocolate maker in the form of Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé who, as far as I can recall, don't stone grind their cocoa during the chocolate making process. More recently chocolate makers have used more sophisticated melangers to grind the cocoa beans into 'chocolate liquor'. This equipment traditionally achieves a much smaller size of particle than stone-grinding. Hence chocolate made in this form often has a more course, granular consistency which may be more authentic but is generally appeals to a much smaller audience. We already stock chocolate in this form from Wilkies and Bonajuto so it would be nice to add to the list.
There are five bars to try: a Malagasy Criollo, a Jamaica from St. Elizabeth parish, a raw Arriba from Ecuador, a Honduras and a Dominican Republic.
The Malagasy Criollo had an intense burnt wood and pineapple juice aroma - the acidity was far sharper than any other Criollo I had experienced - especially many of the Venezuelan strains. The texture wasn't the finest given temperature shock but the flavour was very interesting. It was a cross between gin and tonic and the pineapple juice again. This is very much a 'grower'. It takes time but as your mouth becomes acclimatised it moves from being purely just acceptable to being very pleasant. It is a far cry from the mellow smoothness of a Bonnat, for example.
Chocolate made with Jamaican cocoa is often seen as light with mild acidity and hints of coffee. The aroma certainly doesn't offer that, however. Instead it’s incredibly brute. There's peat, tonnes of balsamic and a hint of coffee mixture. The flavour is so strange. There's a foreground of olives which changes into Love Hearts and then softens into strawberries and cream and then on to coffee latte. Again, this is a grower.
Having consumed a fair bit of Ecuadorian Arriba recently I wasn't actually too excited about this one. You can definitely tell it is a 'raw' chocolate given the metallic scent. The texture also confirmed this with its more granular nature. The flavour, however, was radical. It was very 'fresh', light and fantastic. It is very noticeably 'floral' as it exhibited a diluted elderflower cordial tone.
The Honduras has a nose that is a mix of mushroom and cider and a flavour that carried that through but also contained turmeric and other soft spices and then thick-cut marmalade. I absolutely love this chocolate. The flavours evolve, change and provide a profile that is quite unique - which is interesting given that DNA testing shows the Indio Rojo cocoa bean to be mainly Amelonado - which 'powers' much of the poor quality West African chocolate, and some of the good quality stuff too.
The Dominican Republic was a completely different affair and reminds me of the slightly blue-cheese quality of the Claudio Corrallo's chocolate. The texture is also somewhat granular which many won't find all that appetising. Compared to the Honduran chocolate, this doesn't meet the grade.