Cacao Prieto Organic Bean to Bar Chocolate

In this day and age, when chocolate shops dot the landscape like poppy seeds on a bagel, it’s a huge challenge to create a new artisanal line that not only gets people’s attention, but also merits multiple return engagements. Daniel Prieto Preston has achieved both. The large bars he produces are lovely and delicious, with their scattering of fruits and nuts on a base of seductively glossy super dark chocolate.

The company was founded by Daniel, an inventor and aerospace engineer, whose family has been farming organic cacao in the Dominican Republic for more than 100 years. The Prieto family owns Coralina Farms with over 2000 hectares in the Nagua area of the Dominican Republic. They provide all the cacao for Cacao Prieto’s chocolates. Coralina Farms is also the center for long range experiments in self-sustainable and organic farming methods, and the repository and preservation center for Dominican Cacao biodiversity.

The five bars I sampled were all 72% cacao and weighed 4.2 ounces. Each came adorned with a lovely retro-looking postcard that could easily be removed for mailing.

The flavors were: Hazelnut and Raisin, Cashew and Cranberry, Almond and Salt, Pistachio and Apricots, and Pecan and Sour Cherry. At first glance, I thought the chocolate had more sugar than other dark bars with a similar cocoa content; then, I read the label more carefully, and saw it was for a 55 gram portion. Most bars suggest a 40 gram portion and their sugar content would be about 12 grams. Here, it’s 16 grams for a heftier amount. The sugar is organic and also sourced from the Dominican Republic.

I loved all their flavor combinations. The super fresh crunchy nuts and slightly chewy fruits married beautifully with the perfectly balanced intensity of their chocolate. This is a refined intensity with fruity notes, a touch of terroir, enough edge on the finish to keep your interest, and a captivating shiny crisp temper.

They also create a lovely array of 72% Criollo bars from various vintages starting with June 2010 through December 2012. Apparently, these are produced from some of the oldest and finest criollo strains on their farm, the genetics of which date back to those brought to the island by Christopher Columbus.

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