We often find ourselves tasting bars with a ‘floral’ profile, but it’s rare for us to taste a bar with flowers as an inclusion.
With such an incredible culture of food, patisserie, desserts and strong respect for artisan tradition, it may come as little surprise that Japan has now embraced bean-to-bar chocolate. One of these Japanese makers is Cacaoken by Yukari Nakano and her parents.
As you might recall, Cacaoken is short for ‘cacao laboratory’ in Japanese. It crafts all its chocolate bars in its laboratory in Fukuoka. It sells in coffee stores throughout Japan and also via a caravan that Nakano-san drives around Japan (in which she and her mother, demonstrate how small batch chocolate is crafted).
And on top of this Cacaoken has a farm and research lab in Vietnam. Here Cacaoken grows cacao and experiments with bean fermentation. The bars all use these Vietnamese cacao beans (sometimes blended with Ghanaian cacao).
A vital part of Japanese culture is taking the time to appreciate the beauty that can be found in fleeting moments. This might be in tea ceremonies, or in the springtime ritual of ‘hanami’. Hanami literally translates as “looking as flowers” and refers to flower appreciation picnics under the sakura (cherry blossoms). These meditative, reflective moments provide a change of pace and are an essential part of springtime in Japan.
This bar, inspired by one such moment of quiet reflection, sees sakura incorporated with white chocolate. We recently tasted this Sakura bar from Cacaoken when Nakano-san was visiting London, and we loved it so much that we bought some on the spot so that you could try it too…
This sweet white chocolate bar has a distinctive pink appearance that hints at the floral notes to come. As with all bars from Cacaoken, this is a wonderful, thin bar, with an excellent melt.
It melts to reveal a sweetness with some tart, almost bitter floral notes from the Sakura that remind us of sour plums …