Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: Dandelion Patanemo, Venezuela

Richard's Rating: 6.5
chocolate makerDandelion
barPatanemo
regionVenezuela
plantationblend
cacao treesunknown
year2013
size56g ~ 2.0oz
cocoa solids70%
added fat(none)
sweetenercane sugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoring(none)
other ingredients(none)
list price$8.00
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1015
Bracken
appearancesmooth, scoring, imprints
aromaroast (malt), earth, spice (nutmeg), dairy
snapmedium hard
tasteroast (malt), spice (cinnamon), fruit (cherry), nut, earth, sweet
meltsmooth
lengthshort
finishtannin, slightly tart
Patanemo is a less well-known cacao growing region of Venezuela. This bar came from the fourth batch of chocolate made by Dandelion from cacao beans of the 2012 harvest.

As with all of their chocolate, Dandelion crafted Patanemo in their nut-free facility with only two ingredients: 70% cacao beans and 30% cane sugar.

The bar was scored into 18 pieces, each with an imprint of five parallel squiggles. Inside thick cream-colored craft paper, the two ounce bar came wrapped in heavy gold foil. The best before date was August 2014.

Patanemo had a medium-dark brown Bracken (PANTONE 19-1015) color and a great overall appearance. The snap on the scoring was medium hard, but nicely hard in breaking an individual piece.

The aroma contained scents of malt roast, earth, and nutmeg spice. I also noticed a hint of dairy.

The taste began with malt roast and some underlying earthiness. A cinnamon spice quickly developed, along with flavors of cherry, nuttiness, and sweetness.

Dandelion described the taste on the wrapper: "This rich chocolate bar has a roasty flavor reminiscent of peanuts."

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted about 15 to 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a short length. The final aftertaste was tannin and slightly tart.

I've only reviewed one other chocolate made from Patanemo cacao, Mast Brothers Grand Cru. I'd like to compare the two, but unfortunately, that review was biased as the chocolate had partially bloomed.

Dandelion Patanemo, Venezuela, is not currently available for purchase online directly from Dandelion or from The Meadow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Lindt Excellence 90% Supreme Dark


Richard's Rating: 4.5
chocolate makerLindt
barExcellence 90%
regionunknown
plantationblend
cacao treesunknown
yearunknown
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids90%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoringbourbon vanilla
other ingredientscocoa powder
list price$3.95
colordark brown
PANTONE 19-1314
Seal Brown
appearancesmooth, imprints, scoring
aromaroast (smoke, cocoa), vanilla, earth
snaphard
tasteearth, roast (smoke), bitter
meltsmooth
lengthshort
finishbitter, somewhat sour, slightly acidic
Lindt changed the formulations of their Excellence line of chocolate bars since our reviews of them in 2010. For the high content bars, they added cocoa powder processed with alkali.

Lindt 90% Supreme Dark had additional ingredients of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and bourbon vanilla beans. There was no added emulsifier (none of the soy lecithin that was added in the 70% bar).

Inside a paper box, the 100 gram bar came enclosed in foil. The bar was scored into 10 pieces, each with imprints of the cursive Lindt name above six diagonal lines. The best before date was May 31, 2014.

The color of 90% was a dark brown Seal Brown (PANTONE 19-1314). The bar had a smooth surface and overall nice appearance. The snap was hard.

This chocolate had an aroma of roast, vanilla, and earth. The roast contained both smoke and cocoa scents.

An initial earthy taste transitioned to a smoky roast flavor. I also tasted vanilla and a strong bitterness.

The melt was smooth. The chocolate flavor lasted about 15 to 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a short length. The finish was that strong bitterness, along with some sourness and a little acidity.

You can purchase Excellence 90% online for $3.95 directly from Lindt or for only $1.96 currently on sale at World Wide Chocolate.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Lindt Excellence 70% Smooth Dark


Richard's Rating: 5.0
chocolate makerLindt
barExcellence 70%
regionunknown
plantationblend
cacao treesunknown
yearunknown
size100g ~ 3.5oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifiersoy lecithin
flavoringbourbon vanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$3.95
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1012
Dark Brown
appearancesmooth, imprints, scoring
aromaroast (smoke, tobacco), sweet, vanilla, earth, nut
snaphard
tastesweet (butterscotch), roast (cocoa), vanilla, nut, tannin, acidic, bitter
meltsmooth
lengthshort
finishtannin, somewhat bitter, somewhat acidic
It's been several years since we reviewed Lindt's Excellence line, and since that time Lindt has changed the ingredients of these chocolates.

Lindt added soy lecithin to the 70% bar. Other ingredients of this 70% cocoa solids chocolate are sugar, cocoa butter, and bourbon vanilla beans.

The 100 gram bar came enclosed in foil inside a paper box. The best before date was April 30, 2014. The bar was scored into 10 pieces, each with imprints of the cursive Lindt name above six diagonal lines.

The chocolate had a medium brown Dark Brown (PANTONE 19-1012) color. The bar looked great, with a smooth surface and only a few adhered bits. The snap was hard.

The aroma was mostly roast, with smokiness and tobacco scents, and vanilla. It smelled sweet, and I noticed some earth and nuttiness as well.

Excellence 70% tasted sweet, with a dominant flavor of butterscotch. Flavors of cocoa roast, vanilla, and nut were also present. The taste was tannin, acidic, and bitter.

The melt was smooth. The length was at the far end of short, with the flavor lasting almost 20 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The finish was tannin, somewhat bitter, and somewhat acidic.

Overall, this iteration of their 70% bar is an improvement over the one we reviewed in 2010. The taste changed substantially and the formerly strong bitter finish was substantially reduced. This chocolate remains a great value, and can frequently be found on sale for as little as $2.00 at groceries and pharmacies.

You can purchase Excellence 70% online for $3.95 directly from Lindt or for $3.50 from World Wide Chocolate.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Madre Kona, Hawai'i, Likao Kula Farm


Richard's Rating: 7.0
chocolate makerMadre
barKona
regionHawaii
plantationLikao Kula
cacao treesunknown
year2013
size43g ~ 1.5oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoringvanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$11.00
colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1012
Dark Brown
appearancesmooth, raised shapes, image imprints, uneven sheen
aromafruit (berry, orange), roast (cocoa, tea, tobacco), spice (vanilla), sweet (honey)
snapmedium hard
tastefruit (mango, orange), sweet (butterscotch), earth
meltmore smooth
lengthlong
finishacidic, slightly tart
Kona is another limited edition bar from Madre. It is a plantation bar, with the cacao coming from the Likao Kula farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. The cacao trees at Likao Kula are primarily Trinitario, but there are a few Forastero and Criollo as well.

The ingredients of this chocolate were cacao beans, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, and Hawaiian whole vanilla. Cocoa solids were 70%.

The bar was formed in Madre's standard mold: an unscored 1.5 ounces of chocolate, with raised shapes and Mayan glyph imprints.

It came wrapped in silver foil inside a paper sleeve. The best before date was September 17, 2014.

The color of Kona was medium-dark Dark Brown (PANTONE 19-1012). The surface of the bar had an uneven sheen, but the appearance was much better than the photo suggests. The snap was medium hard.

The chocolate had an aroma containing fruit, roast, a vanilla spice, and sweetness. The fruit scents included both berry and orange. The roast seemed to be a mix of cocoa, tea, and tobacco. The sweetness smelled of honey.

A brief initial taste of earth quickly transitioned into mixed fruit flavors and a butterscotch sweetness. Mango and orange were the strongest of the fruit flavors I noticed.

Kona had a more smooth melt. The chocolate flavor lasted 60 to 70 seconds after the chocolate was gone, giving a long length. The final aftertaste was acidic and slightly tart.

Limited edition Kona, Hawai'i, Likao Kula Farm was another great chocolate from Madre. You can purchase it online for $11.00 directly from Madre's Square shopping site.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Madre Hawi, Hawai'i criollo


Richard's Rating: 8.0
chocolate makerMadre
barHawi
regionHawaii
plantationHealani Orchards
cacao treesCriollo
year2013
size43g ~ 1.5oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoringvanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$11.00
colorlight brown
PANTONE 19-1241
Tortoise Shell
appearancesmooth, raised shapes, image imprints
aromafruit (tropical, date), sweet (marshmallow), roast (cocoa), nut, spice (clove)
snapmedium hard
tastesweet, dried fruit (fig, raisin, date), roast (cocoa), spice (mint, vanilla, anise)
meltmore smooth to creamy
lengthlong
finishsomewhat acidic, slightly tannin
Madre sourced the criollo cacao for Hawi from Healani Orchards on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hawi contained 70% cocoa solids (organic cacao beans and added organic cocoa butter). The other ingredients were organic sugar and Mexican whole vanilla.

The 1.5 ounce bar was unscored, with raised shapes and imprints of Mayan glyphs interpreted as "ka-ka-u-wa" for cacao. You can read more about these glyphs in The History of Chocolate in Our Logo section of Madre's About Us page.

The bar came wrapped in foil inside a paper sleeve. The best before date on the bar was September 14, 2014.

This chocolate had a remarkably light brown Tortoise Shell (PANTONE 19-1241) color. This is the first time I've seen this particular color of chocolate. The snap was slightly less crisp than most other bars, just into the medium hard range.

Hawi's aroma had both familiar scents of marshmallow sweetness and cocoa roast and uncommon ones of tropical fruit and dates. I also smelled nut and some spice that included clove.

The taste was much sweeter than I expected from 70% cocoa solids. The flavor categories I noticed were roast, fruit, and spice. The roast tasted primarily of cocoa. The fruit was a mix of dried fruits: mostly fig, with some raisin and date. The spices included mint, vanilla, and anise.

The melt was on the boundary between more smooth and creamy. The chocolate had incredible length, with the chocolate flavor consistently lasting more than 60 seconds after the chocolate was gone. Only five of the chocolates in my chocolate review database (of nearly 300 bars) have a length of 60 seconds or longer. The finish was somewhat acidic and slightly tannin.

Overall, this was a great chocolate, with interesting secondary flavors, excellent mouthfeel, and superb length, earning a place on our Best Chocolates Overall. UPDATE: You can again purchase Hawi online for $11.00 directly from Madre's Square shopping site.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review: Madre Hamakua pod-to-bar


Richard's Rating: 7.0
chocolate makerMadre
barHamakua pod-to-bar
regionHawaii
plantation(blend)
cacao trees(unknown)
year2013
size43g ~ 1.5oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenersugar
emulsifier(none)
flavoringvanilla
other ingredients(none)
list price$10.00
colormedium brown
PANTONE 19-1314
Seal Brown
appearancesmooth, raised shapes, image imprints, bubbles
aromasweet (marshmallow), roast (cocoa), vanilla, fruit (coconut, apricot)
snaphard
tastesweet (marshmallow), roast (cocoa), tropical fruit (pineapple), floral, nut, wood, mint
meltmore smooth
lengthmedium
finishtannin, somewhat acidic
U.S. chocolate maker Madre crafts bean to bar chocolate from the island of Oahu in Hawaii. They make both unflavored and flavored chocolate bars and some other chocolate products with cacao from Hawaii and from the Dominican Republic.

Most chocolate makers begin with cacao beans shipped to them from far away, often several months after the cacao has been fermented and dried near where it was grown. Madre is actively involved in the fermentation of the cacao they purchase from local Hawaiian farmers.

The cacao for Hamakua pod-to-bar chocolate was grown on the northeast side of the Big Island. The other ingredients were organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, and Hawaiian whole vanilla.

The unscored bar weighed 1.5 ounces. I tasted this chocolate in early January. The best before date on the bar was August 19, 2014.

Hamakua had a medium brown Seal Brown (PANTONE 19-1314) color. The bar was smooth with raised shapes and image imprints. Some fine bubbles were present. The bar had a hard snap.

The aroma was a sweet marshmallow and cocoa roast. I smelled vanilla, coconut, and apricot scents.

The chocolate tasted sweet, fruity, and roasted. The fruit flavors were tropical, with a non-citrus pineapple being the strongest one. The sweetness seemed to be marshmallow, and the roast was primarily cocoa. More subtle flavors included floral, nut, wood, and a surprising hint of mint.

The melt of Hamakua was more smooth, almost creamy. The length was medium, with the chocolate flavor lasting about 30 to 35 seconds after the chocolate was gone. The finish was tannin and somewhat acidic.

Unfortunately, this limited edition chocolate is not currently available for purchase.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Event: Chocolopolis Sixth Anniversary

Every July Chocolopolis celebrates their anniversary with a month of wonderful chocolate events. Of particular note is the chance to win a free bar of chocolate every week for one year by finding one of three golden tickets placed in bars during the month. That experience initially inspired this blog.

If you're new to the Seattle area, visiting during the month, or just haven't made it there yet, attending an event that interests you is another reason to go. Chocolopolis also has free Thursday evening (happy hour, 5 to 9 p.m.) themed chocolate tastings nearly every week throughout the year.

Here are some of the special events this year:
  • Wednesday, July 2nd, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: truffle-making demonstration from Sebastian and Dominica Falcon of Chocolopolis.
  • Tuesday, July 8th, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.: meet Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate and taste chocolate made from cacao grown in Hawaii.
  • Thursday, July 10th, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: meet Jacques Dahan of Michel Cluizel and taste some French chocolate.
  • Saturday, July 12th, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: taste iced drinking chocolate, and check out Queen Anne Days Sidewalk Sale until 5 p.m. There will also be two guided chocolate tasting sessions for children: one at 11 a.m. and one at 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 15th, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: get advice from Lauren Adler of Chocolopolis about how to host a great chocolate tasting party.
  • Thursday, July 17th, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: be one of the first to taste three new single-origin Chocolopolis chocolate bars at this launch happy hour.
  • Tuesday, July 22nd, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.: learn about cacao in Belize as Lauren Adler of Chocolopolis shares photos and stories about traditional Mayan cacao farming and the local Fair Trade cooperative.
  • Thursday, July 24th, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: compare U.S. crafted chocolate, with a East vs. West (of the Mississippi) tasting.
  • Tuesday, July 29th, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.: Chocolopolis chocolatiers give suggestions about how to avoid chocolate baking and cooking mistakes. Some bulk chocolate will be on sale.
  • Thursday, July 31st, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.: taste some favorite chocolate bars of the Chocolopolis team.
You can read more about their anniversary and other events at Chocolopolis (including chocolate tasting classes and their frequent bar club) on their website.