Today I bring you a super-special edition of a Very Dark Chocolate tasting. A few months back, I recruited two guest tasters, both major contributors to the formation of my tastebuds (genetically anyway) – my mother and my grandfather! Together, we took on a trio of treats. I’m happy to share the insights from our collective ~155(!) years of experience in putting things in our mouths.
Introducing your lineup of tasters:
Chocolate #1: “Kava, a 3,000 Year Tradition”
While this bar violates my 80% cacao threshold, we wanted to include a local product. Made by Hava Kava Hut in Kona, HI, this 70% bar is flavored with vanilla, coconut, and ginger, and costs $4 for 1.25 ounces. It also includes kava (‘awa in Hawaiian), a plant prized for its soothing and relaxing qualities.
Each little square says “Dreamy,” and you can smell the coconut sugar straight off, a strange different kind of sweet. Before you even bite down, you taste the ginger. Then the chocolate kicks in. After the chocolate dissipates, there are ginger-tasting shreds left behind.
Mom: There’s a crunch to it.
Simone: It’s kind of a granulated sugar feel.
Mom: No aftertaste, and it’s not waxy. Enjoyable from start to finish. It’s clean! My mouth is empty!
Simone: The vanilla and coconut are muted. I mostly taste ginger.
Grandpa: Mm! Different.
Everyone: It’s an island of flavor!
Chocolate #2: Marou Ben Tre, 78%
This chocolate was a gift from my brother, so I don’t know how much it costs, but am very grateful!
Anyway, this chocolate comes from Marou Faiseurs de Chocolat, the first artisan chocolate-makers based in Vietnam. They work closely with local Vietnamese cacao farmers and write passionately about their commitment to “cacao’s Renaissance in Vietnam.” The Ben Tre bar is named for the province in the Mekong Delta where its beans are grown. It’s a thick bar, firm and dark, and rather difficult to break.
Simone: I adore the design. This paper is so beautiful.
Mom: There’s an exotic flavor to it, like it comes from a tree you’ve never heard of. And you think, wow, I’ve never tasted that before, but here it is.
Simone: Yes. It’s an herbal or chicory coffee sort of medicinal quality.
Grandpa: It doesn’t have a real chocolatey taste or texture. I don’t know. It really doesn’t taste like chocolate to me!
Mom: It doesn’t taste like a fruit, but like the root or the branch. Like it took longer to grow than a fruit.
Simone: It is a Dark Mystical Brew. Not very munchable, but maybe good for chopping and adding to something, or drizzling over some fruit. And there’s almost a bit of heat at the end, peppery and lingering.
Grandpa: Yes. I got a little burnt aftertaste. Should I go brush my teeth now? I have to drink some water before the next one.
Chocolate #3: Pacari 85% Cacao
Lastly, we taste a sample from Pacari Chocolate, the first premium organic chocolate line made entirely in Ecuador. Not only are they committed to working with local Ecuadorian small farms, but they also have a few charitable ventures in Ecuador, including a project to bring solar-powered light to rural farmers, an effort to bring organic agricultural curricula to schools, and coordinating computer donations for schools of agriculture. Their 85% cacao is a raw bar, and soy-free.
Mom: You can’t taste anything at the beginning. It has to melt to release the flavors.
Simone: I agree. It melts a little bit dry, coating the tongue. Your mouth has to provide saliva in order for the chocolate to come out.
Mom: This tastes of pure chocolate. There are no hints of anything but chocolate. It would make a great hot chocolate or mousse.
Grandpa: Okay. Now this is a very chocolate taste. And that’s it. I can’t distinguish anything else.
I highly recommend intergenerational tasting parties. Fun for the whole family!
If you like chocolate, read more of my Very Dark Chocolate tasting reviews by clicking here!