I was gobsmacked today, really really taken aback by a simple taste comparison between two chocolate bars made from the same batch of cocoa liquor from Jamaica. Basically, we got cocoa liquor from a supplier who processes the beans into liquor, basically grinding it down into a paste. This supplier from France also makes their own chocolate bars, but it will not be a brand name you will recognize, as they are quite under-the-radar.
This was the best example to date of how different processing techniques on the same cocoa liquor produces totally different results. Though I’m still recovering from a cold and taste functions are quite muted, the marked difference made it all the more shocking.
Bar 1 = Artisan du Chocolat’s Jamaica Bar. Bar 2 = French made Jamaican Bar.
Bar 1 had a slight acidity as the first note which ushered forth dried mango and tamarind paste sandwiched between dried banana chips (Yes, weird association, but it is a very very fond flavour memory of mine). This brought me back to Talat Thai Wholesale market in Bangkok, where tropical fruits scented the aisles.
At the end, the flavour of civet cat poo coffee from Vietnam unveiled itself (Actually, my flavour bank’s civet cat poo coffee is from Chiang Rai in Thailand, but everyone associates it with Vietnam).
Perhaps the cold virus was playing mind tricks on me, but it was that unmistakable flavour of coffee with a fruity/nutty bouquet and a bit of acidity without any bitterness.
Bar 2 on the other hand was lifeless and flat, no ups or downs, just the horizontal stroke of a corpse hooked up to an ECG machine. Apparently, copious amounts of vanilla was added, but I could not really taste it clearly, other than the very familiar taste of el cheapo supermarket branded chocolate bars.
The classical belief that long conching develops flavour and adding more fat creates beautiful mouthfeel is just old fashioned rubbish. How many chefs still believe that you have to sear/brown your steak to seal in the juices when you are actually doing the opposite?
2 makers, same cocoa, different results. Making chocolate indeed is an art and a science, and I am forever indebted to my bosses at Artisan du Chocolat for sharing their knowledge whole heartedly and giving me the chance to experience REALLY making chocolate as opposed to just melting it.