Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Fresco 210

Lindy's Rating: 9.5 (previously ***)
Richard's Rating: 9.0 (previously ***)

chocolate makerFresco
cacao trees(unknown)
size40g ~ 1.4oz
cocoa solids70%
added fatcocoa butter
sweetenercane sugar
other ingredients(none)
list priceN/A

colormedium-dark brown
PANTONE 19-1317 Bitter Chocolate
texturelined with scoring
aromaearthy, floral, woody, bread, nut, fruit
tasteroast, spice (allspice), sweet (brown sugar), nut, bread, woody
meltless smooth
finishacidic, faintly spicy
Fresco is an independent chocolate maker in Lynden, WA, (a small town near the United States border with Canada) that produces small batches of chocolate bars. Each production run uses a different recipe of three simple ingredients: beans, cocoa butter, and cane sugar. Each recipe is based on the origin of the cacao beans, the percentage of cocoa solids, how the beans are roasted, and how the ingredients are conched (i.e., ground down and refined into smooth chocolate) before tempering.

Fresco generously shares much of that information with their customers by identifying each bar not only by recipe, batch numbers, and production date, but also with explicit documentation of the levels of roasting (light, medium, or dark) and conching (none, subtle, medium, long). Of course, they also include the traditional bean origin and percentage of cocoa solids. Fresco has a good web page outlining their chocolate making process.

The 210 bar was made from cacao beans from Jamaica, with 70% cocoa solids, using a dark roast and medium conching. The color was a medium dark brown, with each square lined in alternating vertical and horizontal directions that attracted the eye as ones perspective changed relative to the lighting (please see picture above).

The primary aroma of Fresco's 210 was strongly earthy, but aromas of floral, woody, bread, nuts, and fruit were also present. The floral scent seemed strong to me, but only faint to Lindy. The snap wasn't as hard as usual.

This chocolate had a roast flavor, a spice that Lindy tasted as allspice, nuts, and a sweetness of brown sugar. Lindy also noticed bread and I found it quite woody.

The melt was less smooth that Lindy perceived as almost, but not quite, grainy (perhaps due to the medium conche). Disappointingly for a chocolate with such a delicious flavor, the length was minimal -- gone in only a few seconds. The finish was great, though: acidic with a faint spiciness and no bitterness.

Lindy loved the flavor of this bar and wanted to give it ****, but with only moderate complexity, imperfect melt, and minimal length, she felt she could only rate it ***. Still, it was near the top of her *** ratings and easily made it into the ranks of her ten favorite chocolate bars. I liked Fresco's 210, too, but I didn't find it good enough to break into my ten favorites.

These bars are relatively small at only 40 grams, or 1.4 ounces, which makes them on the expensive side. Fresco does not document a list price for their chocolate bars, but until they run out, you can buy the 210 at Chocolopolis for $7.00.

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