Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Sexual Chocolate
Vicki and I have taken to ending our evening meal with a few morsels of bittersweet chocolate (usually rated at 70% cacao content or higher). Our first foray into this realm began with Scharffen-Berger. This is a relatively young upstart in the universe of chocolate but their product is made using time honored techniques and processes. The taste of the 70% is quite smooth with hints of a cherry roastiness.
Most recently, I ponied up decent dough to purchase a few more exotic offerings. Michel Cluizel offers a 72% variety that contains small nibs of cacao. This chocolate is similar to the Scharffen-Berger in texture but the flavor is mellower and subdued with a greater hint of roastiness that overshadows other flavors.
Perhaps most intriguing is the Bonajuto from Sicily. This chocolate is quite different from what we are used to in that it is made using techniques perhaps most true to the original "Xoco'atl" that the Aztecs enjoyed. Indeed, Bonajuto may be as close as we come to appreciating chocolate in its most historically original form when it entered into European consciousness back in the 16th Century. In this case, the cacao nibs and the sugar remain distinct crystals and the texture is crispy and crunchy rather than smooth. Later chocolate production blended the cacao and the sugar into a combined solid with a uniform texture. In the Bonajuto, the two remain separate and distinct within the whole bar. A very unique and delicious treat!
And finally our chocolate travels ventured us to Venezuela and the kingly offering called El Rey. This variety ensures production at the source of the cacao and the "Gran Saman" offering (70%) utilizes the heirloom Criollo cacao native to the region. The texture is smooth and inviting and the roastiness couples with hints of nut to produce a fine finish. El Rey is my favorite.


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