More than 400 flavour notes have been identified in cacao, but basically you can separate beans into the fruity / floral camp and the caramelly / nutty one. This month we’re getting fruity. All three of these single estate dark chocolates have their own unique characters. All taste generally fruity, but within that they are still wildly different. Having scoured the world for these beautiful beans, I do everything I can to protect their precious flavours. So I conche the chocolate (to drive off the acidity) at low temperatures for up to 3 weeks. That’s slow! Industrial chocolate is made in a few hours.
The Magnificent Creations this month continue the fruity theme. These are the two handmade chocolates that are in every Tasting Box.
Let’s start with San Agustin 70 with which you are glimpsing red fruits among the soft notes of honey and nuts. I discovered these beautiful Trinitario beans in the ancient San Agustin District, in the foothills of the Colombian Massifs. Bean buying trips to Colombia have been a real highlight of the last few years. Pictures on the next page. One group of farmers around El Amparo, a town known for its links with the ELN. There were slogans daubed all over the walls and signs of air strips deep in the countryside. When I got back to Bogota people were so astounded when I said I had gone to El Amparo, that they told me I must be making a mistake and pronouncing it wrong! I ended up being interviewed on national television! By buying cacao there, we are supporting the farmers in their transition from growing coca. It represents a new start and new hope for many families. ‘Cacao for Peace’ as they say.
Now let’s move on to the Chulucanas 70 a highly prized criollo bean from Peru, with notes of raisins and plums, and the juicy, fruity Madagascan Sambirano 71. So often people have asked me what I add to this because they can’t believe that all the citrus notes come simply from the cacao. They do!
Now you have tasted the full basket of naturally occurring fruit flavours, we’ll move on to the flavoured bars. Both Ginger Lime and Luscious Orange are made with a Cuban bean which tastes naturally of honey. I chose this because it pairs perfectly with the ginger and citrus inclusions. In the same way the Hazelnuts and Raisins sit happily in the Chulucanas 70 with its natural raisin notes.
This brings me to the glorious Passion Fruit. One day this is going to be an iconic flavour in the chocolate world. The passion fruit has the perfect zing to cut through the milk chocolate. I get juice specially freeze dried so it is completely natural. Raspberries and Cream is literally bursting with raspberry! I have refined whole freeze dried raspberries into light creamy white chocolate. Totally natural. Totally delicious.
Hibiscus. Creamy white chocolate with hibiscus
Transport yourself to the luscious palm fringed tropics. The crimson red Hibiscus flower is the essence of tropical beauty and I have them growing all the way up the path on my farm. So intense are the flavours of is this glorious flower, you could be tasting vibrant red berries.
Strawberries & Cream. Creamy white chocolate with strawberry
Strawberries and cream are one of life’s simplest pleasures. Close your eyes and let this heavenly chocolate take you back to the long summer days of your childhood, picking sweet, sun-warmed berries. I have refined whole freeze dried strawberries into this white chocolate, hence its old fashioned muted pink… nothing artificial here!