In the Boston area, Taza is King Chocolate. Practically every local high-end restaurant uses Taza products on the dessert menu – and some put it on their drinks and dinner menus, too. Taza is baked into all manner of pastries, used in ice cream and coffee, brewed into beer, melted into Mexican mole – I’ve even heard a rumor it was served on mac and cheese.
The founder, Alex Whitmore, became enamored with Mexican-style chocolate on a visit to Oaxaca. He apprenticed to a molinero and learned to carve the giant stone wheels (molinos) that grind cacao beans for a chocolate whose texture differs immensely from European-style smooth conched chocolate. Its signature granular texture takes a bit of getting used to, but I like it very much. For those acclimating to the grittiness, it makes a smooth and splendid hot chocolate when melted.
Taza has grown from a local company to shipping their products all over the world, but they still feel very ethical and small-business friendly. They tout their bean-to-bar approach and are recognized as one of the first stone-ground artisan companies in the U.S. They offer daily tours at their factory in Somerville. I took one with a friend and left with insight into the chocolate-making process as well as a bellyful of samples, which they give away quite generously.
The flavor is sweet and bright, honeyed, with no overbearing darkness. Unlike most chocolates, I find it much better to chew with gusto, feeling the sugar and fine cacao lively between your teeth, than to let it melt in an lump on your tongue.
I’ve sampled many of Taza’s chocolates and I recommend them, whether you choose the pure dark or go for a flavored bar. I quite like their Salted Almond, Toffee, Raspberry Nib, or Peppermint Crunch when I’m in a sweeter mood. Either way, give it a try. Taza is popping up increasingly in all kinds of specialty and mainstream stores.
If you like chocolate, read more of my Very Dark Chocolate tasting reviews by clicking here!