Lindy's Rating: 7.5 (previously **)
Richard's Rating: 8.0 (previously ***)
Francois Pralus's Le 100% is the first artisan bar we've reviewed made of 100% cacao beans. We had mixed feelings about tasting a chocolate without any added sweetener. I wanted to love it and we both feared it might taste like the awful, intensely bitter, unsweetened baking chocolate squares bought at the grocery store that we remembered from our childhood.
The cacao beans that Pralus uses are from their private plantation of Criollo trees on the island of Nosy Be, Madagascar, where they are grown, harvested and fermented. They are then transported to their factory in Roanne, France, where they are roasted, conched, etc., and made into chocolate.
Le 100% is certified organic (with the French Agriculture Biologique, which is recognized as meeting all EU regulations for organic food). Now, on to the review!
The thick bar was surprisingly easy to break, and the snap was softer than we expected, perhaps due to the warmer than usual temperature that day. This pure chocolate smelled of cocoa, but there were also aromas of something floral, mint, and red fruit. The melt was nicely creamy, probably as a result of the added cocoa butter.
As for the taste, I found it woody and Lindy experienced it as a flavor of burnt ashes (but not ashy). Both of us were surprised by the complete lack of bitterness. Lindy noticed some acidity. The length was long, as we could still taste the flavors a minute after consuming the chocolate. The finish was slightly acidic, but again, not bitter.
Overall, neither of us especially liked the taste. Lindy found it unpleasant, and it wasn't something I would seek out. I don't think there is anything lacking with this chocolate; it's just that neither of us have yet acquired a taste for 100% chocolates.
However, Le 100% is an organic pure chocolate made from Criollo cacao beans, so if you're interested in trying a 100% chocolate, this is probably a good one (and it might be nice with a full-bodied red wine ;)
Pralus Le 100% is available at Chocolopolis for $7.99.