Mast Brothers single origin dark chocolate bar – Madagascar

Today’s the last of the three Mast Brothers single origin chocolate bars, the Madagascar, that I bought at Cocoa Cinnamon, a local coffee shop. I reviewed the Belize last Friday, and the Papua New Guinea on Monday.

Wrapper description: “This organic cacao is sourced from a single farm in Madagascar’s northwest coast. Bold, with notes of blood orange, raspberry, and red wine.”

The Madagascar looked quite shiny and broke with a sharp snap. Its melt was fuzzy and with no tongue-coating properties.

It started with rich caramel notes that quickly gave way to an incredibly punchy, bright fruitiness that shone through. It was sweet and tangy – I placed it as passionfruit, though the wrapper notes went with blood orange and raspberry.

I am totally sold on Mast Brothers chocolates. They are pricey but totally worth it – every bar I had great flavor intensity and complexity. Another ZOMG!

Mast Brothers single origin dark chocolate bar – Papua New Guinea

Here’s the second of the three Mast Brothers single origin chocolate bars, the Papua New Guinea, that I picked up at my local fancy coffee shop, Cocoa Cinnamon. I reviewed the Belize last Friday, and I’ll review the Madagascar this Friday.

Its wrapper description: “After harvest, these beans are uniquely smoked. This post-fermentation process imparts incredible flavor; think hickory smoked bacon and aged scotch.”

This bar also snapped, but it broke more softly than did the Belize. It also had a thicker melt on the tongue.

It started off with a great depth of chocolate intensity and richness. As the bar melted, it got darker and even more complex, taking on a hint of maltiness as well.

Again, an incredible amount of flavor from just cacao and cane sugar, thanks to careful bean sourcing and smoking the beans after fermentation, I guess. Another ZOMG! Seeing a trend here?

Mast Brothers single origin dark chocolate bar – Belize

I’ve written about Mast Brothers Chocolate in several news posts on the blog, but this is my first time reviewing their wares. Mast Brothers is based in NYC, so I hadn’t been able to try them until now – thanks for carrying amazing chocolate bars, Cocoa Cinnamon!

I picked up three of their single origin bars: the Belize, the Madagascar, and the Papua New Guinea. Belize is up first.

The wrapper blurb: “From the Mayan jungles of southern Belize, this ground-breaking cooperative farms world-class, organic cacao. Notes of raisin, plum, and sarsaparilla.

This bar had the dullest surface look of the three bars that I tried. It broke with a sharp snap, and not always along its presegmented lines.

The texture of the bar was on the dry side. When I chewed it up, it felt like it had just lost its grittiness, and there was no tongue-coating melting feel. You can see the fine grit along the break in the image below.

The flavor of this bar was just incredible! A brightly fruity punch of raisin notes dominates the flavor profile and lingers throughout.

I was enthralled by how much flavor this bar brought from having only cacao and cane sugar on its ingredients list. A ZOMG!

Escazú Goat’s Milk Single Origin Carenero Venezeula

After my last experience with Escazú, I had to have more. Fortunately, there’s a great coffeeshop right by my gym that sells some of their line, so I nabbed this Escazuú bar with a mouthful of a moniker: Goat’s Milk Single Origin Carenero Venezuela.

Like the last bar, this was divided into 24 rectangles. This one easily and sharply snapped along its scores and melted with a matte mouthfeel.

The chocolate started off lightly sweet, then developed edgy caramel notes while also intensifying with a fruity, cherry sweetness.

The finish was absolutely incredible. It was slightly tangy and almost savory, I think because of the goat’s milk, but it didn’t have any of the unctuous funkiness that can sometimes accompany goat cheese.

That finish lingered for quite some time after the chocolate had melted away. I couldn’t get enough of this bar, as evidenced by the fact that it’s half gone. An OMG.


Askinosie Single Origin Dark Chocolates

I bought this selection of Askinosie Itty Bars at Antonelli’s, this great cheese shop in Austin. They were sort of ridiculously expensive, I think at least $1 per 7 gram bar, but they were a perfect size for a candy blogger!

Based on the full-sized chocolate bars on the Askinosie website, I think my Itty Bars were tiny versions of the single origin bars. I took my own tasting notes before I read anything about the bars.

70% Cortes, Honduras had a sharp, crisp snap. It started off lightly sweet, then took on a plummy fruitiness with a great intensity of flavor. The finish was slightly astringent.

70% San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador had a slightly dryer snap. It started off earthy, then mellowed out into a round sweetness that made me think of honey. Here, too, the finish was slightly astringent.

72% Tenende, Tanzania snapped easily but unevenly. Its flavor was not as clean or sweet as the others. Instead, it started off a little muddy, then took on a fruity brightness that just peeped out in near the end of the flavor profile.

Finally, 77% Davao, Philippines had a dry, clean break. It started off earthy with these woodsy undertones that played below a mildly sweet and bright top note that had an almost tart finish.

This was some goooood chocolate. I know it sounds pretentious to write about chocolate in such detail, but with these high quality bars, you really can taste all the different flavors.

The 77% Davao and the 70% San Jose Del Tambos were my favorite of the four, but I wouldn’t turn down any of these. An OMG.

Amedei Tasting Squares

I picked up this assortment of Amedei tasting squares while I was in Italy. Even though I bought them in the country where they’re made, they were not cheap. Guess that’s par for the course when you make the world’s most expensive chocolate.

Each tasting square was about an inch and a quarter square and probably about 1/16th of an inch thick. Each was stamped with the word “Amedei” on a diagonal.

The Toscano Brown was a luscious looking light brown milk chocolate. The label promised, “chocolate of supreme finesse with scents of butter and vanilla. Delicate, extremely agreeable flavor.”

It had a smooth, thick melt with a buttery, light hazelnut undertone. Agreeable indeed!

The Toscano Black 63% was supposed to have “intense chocolaty aroma and rich, flowery flavour, with strong overtones of hazelnut.”

Mine had developed the barest hint of bloom, but it still tasted excellent. It had a sharp and snappy break. It tasted earthy and woodsy but lacked any acrid unpleasantness.

And now, the trio of 70% squares: The Toscano Black 70% claimed “fragrance of flowers and tobacco with an elegant flavour.” To me, it tasted deep, yet smooth with a lightly bitter edge. It had a few caramel hints and strong notes of roasted coffee beans.

The Trinidad’s label claimed, “Refined aroma with a pleasant impact on the taste buds,” which isn’t very descriptive. I found it surprisingly sweet and mellow for its cacao percentage, and quite enjoyably so.

The Ecuador (“extremely intense fragrance with a strong scent of cocoa”) was sweet as well, but with more of a woodsy edge. It was my least favorite of the bunch, with an off-putting hint of papery-ness.

The Trinidad and Toscano 70%s were my favorite. The only one that I didn’t care for was the Ecuador. It gets an O, while the rest get OMs!

Majani Gran Cru Tasting Squares

I bought these Majani Gran Cru single-origin tasting squares while I was in Italy. I can’t read Italian, but I can puzzle out that they’re made in Bologna.

It’s been several months since I bought these, so they had developed a light bloom, but they still tasted just fine.

They come in 3 cacao percentages and from 3 origins. The squares are super thin and stamped with the Majani logo.

Belize was a 65% with a dry snap. It has notes of coffee and tobacco, with a bitter finish. While it was nice, I found it too earthy and woodsy for my taste, and it was my least favorite of the bunch. An O.

Ecuador was a 70% with another dry snap. It tasted fruity, with strong notes of raisin and strong cinnamon flavors. An OM.

Sur del Lago was a 75%. It was my favorite of the trio. It had a complex savory flavor that reminded me of custard and red fruits. An OMG. I love complex chocolates that leave me puzzling out their flavors!

Italy isn’t known for its chocolate as some other European countries are, but these bars show that they’re just as worthy of renown. If only they weren’t so expensive and not readily available in the states!

TCHO Chocolates – Re-review

After I noted TCHO’s off packaging, they sent me fresh samples with their new packaging. In the months since my roommate bought the pack that I first tasted, TCHO had switched from an inner paper liner (which probably contributed the nasty paper flavor) to an inner foil liner.

It seems like they’ve also reformulated the chocolate a tad as well. This time, only the Chocolatey was 70%. Citrus was 67%, Nutty was 65%, and Fruity 2.0 was 68%. The latter three are made from organic beans, and “Nutty” and “Fruity 2.0” are fair trade as well.

The etchings on the mold have changed too – I much prefer the current line graph markings.

“Citrus” tasted dusky at first, then became brightly sweet and fruity/citrusy. It totally hit its mark.

“Fruity 2.0” had a darker sweetness to it. It tasted of cherries and strawberries and carried a brightly fruity finish. There was no duskiness, and the bar had a thin melt.

“Chocolatey” was by far my favorite. It was initially sweet, then gave way to a strong nuttiness with a fruity undertone. It had a thicker melt and mouthfeel than the other bars.

Nutty had a darker nuttiness than the Chocolatey did – more reminiscent of hazelnuts, I think. It had a strong, jammy sweetness that lingered in the finish.

I greatly enjoyed this set of TCHO bars. A little packaging change made a huge difference! I’m impressed at how well the bars hit their flavor marks. These would be great bars to use for a chocolate tasting party. They’re all similar percentages, yet their flavor profiles are distinct and easily discernible. Chocolatey gets an OMG, while the others get OM.

TCHO Chocolates

TCHO chocolates have long been on my radar. I finally got to try them when my roommates were kind enough to bring me a variety pack from California. The variety pack contained 2 each of their fruity, chocolatey, nutty, and citrus flavors.

All of the squares were about 5 centimeters across the diagonal and quite thin, just half a centimeter. All were comprised of 70% cacao.

“Fruity” was made with organic and fair trade beans from Peru. It had a sharp snap with a very dry mouthfeel. There was a definite red fruit fruitiness to it, but the overall flavor was dominated by the stale taste of paper/cardboard.

At first I thought I just had an off square – I had unwrapped it to take photos and then rewrapped it for later –  but that cardboard taste pervaded the other, not-unwrapped-until-tasting-time squares.

“Chocolatey” (beans from Ghana) smelled duskier and featured strong cocoa notes and an almost savory tinge. Its mouthfeel is also dry, but it’s a bit smoother/creamier once it starts melting. The paper/cardboard taste is present in the finish.

“Nutty”, made from organic and fair trade beans from Peru, was the softest and creamiest of the bunch, and it did carry a distinctly nutty favor. But that paper tinge is still there.

Finally, “Citrus” (organic beans from Madagascar) smells sweet and has a very dry and crumbly melt. It tastes a bit chalky with a sweet bright finish, and again that infuriating, ruinous tinge of paper/cardboard taste.

I think TCHO needs to rethink their packaging on these bars, as they all took on an unpleasant, papery overtone that ruined the taste experience. I’ve had them sitting around for a few months, but bars should keep for at least that long, especially when you’re selling them in 90-day supplies.

I’m torn on how to rate these. The paper taste warrants a , but that doesn’t seem quite fair, as TCHO didn’t mean for them to taste of paper. Then again, they did choose the packaging and neglected to put a “best by” date on the package or any storage guidelines (that I could find) on their website. So the stands, with the caveat that my supply was off.

Aequare 70% Chocolate Bar

After I fell in love with Aequare’s 55% bar, how would their (free sample) 70% bar fare? Let’s find out, shall we?

Like the 55% (and all of Aequare’s bars), this bar is handmade from single-origin beans. Like all the bars currently for sale, it’s from their Quevedo, Ecuador grower’s summer 2008 harvest.

The 70% bar was wonderfully snappy. It had a luxuriously thick and smooth melt, surprising for a bar with such a high cacao percentage.

There’s a slight sweetness to the bar, but it is mostly dominated by strong, dry cocoa notes with hints of coffee. It’s extremely chocolatey, in a complex way.

I didn’t love the 70% as much as the 55% – the complexity just wasn’t as captivating – but I still greatly enjoyed it. An OM.