Someone once said, “Watch a person do one thing and you will know how they do everything.” It certainly seems to hold true in the chocolate universe. Take Art Pollard, the founder of Amano chocolate. His single origin bars are in the stratosphere of quality and his new collection of truffles and cordial cherries dutifully follow suit.
I tried all 12 varieties and was smitten with each bite. Speaking of which, Art’s chocolates are good sized, without being over the top. I managed to get two to three satisfying bites out of each one. This may seem fairly unimportant, but, unlike Mies van der Rohe, I sometimes find more is more.
Amano’s Cherry Cordial is like no other. Executive pastry chef Rebecca Millican enrobes a Morello cherry that has been macerating in its own juice in Guayas chocolate. The symphony of flavors and textures, creamy chocolate, a touch of fondant, and liquid, with the cherry’s slightly crisp burst as you bite into it is a treat not to be missed.
Also in Guayas chocolate is the Key Lime Ganache. In my experience, you have to have a deft hand when it comes to pairing lime and chocolate. Luckily, Rebecca has done a marvelous job with this ganache center. The texture of all her ganaches is silky and the quality of the ingredients is apparent to anyone from the most jaded connoisseur to a newly minted chocophile.
While we are still in the realm of delights decked out in Guayas, the Cinnamon Ganache with Candied Pecans on top is another pleasure. I adored this. Unlike many chocolatiers, Rebecca uses just the right amount of sugar, not too much and not so little that you think you’re eating an appetizer. The cinnamon is subtle. She’s obviously not going for something spicy, but an inclusion that heightens your experience of the high quality chocolate. The three textures: creamy ganache, perfectly tempered shell, and crunchy candied pecans is a mini-masterpiece.
White chocolate, no matter how prettily painted, rarely garners much attention from me; however, the newer white chocolates have been far better than any I can recall from even a few years ago. Amano’s uses imported milk powder and a good dose of vanilla. In the Raspberry ganache with Guayas chocolate, the white chocolate is a sensory mnemonic to raspberries and cream. It’s a bit sweeter than some of the others and gentler on the palate.
Last in the Guayas range is another favorite of mine: Yemeni Sidr Honey ganache. Years ago, I went through a period of studying honey. Naturally, that meant tasting honeys from all over the world. What amazed me was how some, especially those with enhanced medicinal properties (honey is famous as an anti-bacterial, for example), were not especially sweet. Such is the case with Sidr. If you expected this little jewel to be cloying, it isn’t. As with the cinnamon, the honey adds something indescribable. Extra depth? Other layers of flavor? A little wildness? Probably all those and more.
There are four chocolates that I can’t call plain, because they are anything but. As they are not enhanced with any other flavors, let’s call them pure. Ocumare, Guayas, Dos Rios, and Madagascar. Each is adorned with edible gold leaf, just in case you needed a reminder of their aristocratic legacy. All three were so adult I almost had to check my driver’s license to see if it was legal for me to eat them. Incredibly satisfying, rich, and complex.
Cardamom and Pepper ganache enrobed in Dos Rios is just steller. Again, the spices are not dominant, but support the chocolate’s intense, heady flavor. Ambrosial.
Tangerine Ganache with Ocumare milk chocolate makes a milk chocolate believer out of me, and it’s a delicious lighter counterpoint to the fairly serious dark chocolates that make up most of this collection.
I have said this before, and I will probably say it again, when chocolate is echt (German for the real thing) a little goes a long way. Yes, you may be tempted to try all of these in one sitting, but two or three will definitely sate any chocolate craving you may have. They demand to be savored. No eating them in front of the TV. All your attention should be focused on the sight, aroma, textures, audible little snaps of the shell, and kaleidoscopic flavors that will descend on you in one fell swoop—provided you pay attention.