My mother grew up in Warsaw, so I was especially interested in a new Polish chocolate company: Manufaktura Czekolady, or Chris and Tom’s Chocolate, as it’s called in the US. Its two founders, Tom Sienkiewicz and Chris Stypulkowski, are putting Poland on the map for organic artisanal bars.
I liked the muted, different colored wrapping papers, with their cross-hatched design, reminiscent of 1950s, and the heavy inner gold foil liner, which is heavy enough to re-seal, assuming you have anything left to save.
Here are the bars I sampled:
Grand Cru 70% with Hispaniola beans from the Dominican Republic, is a well-tempered, almost-black chocolate that has a lovely edge. Hints of tobacco and plum are enhanced by a slightly dry finish. The chewy, snappy texture is divine.
60% Ecuadorian with vanilla and milk differs from other dark milk bars I have had in that it is less sweet, less milky, and the vanilla stays in the background. This is the darkest milk bar I have ever tasted, including ones with higher cacao content. If you’re a devotee of this genre you could have an interesting tasting party of dark milks from Italy (Slitti’s 62% and 70%), England (Green and Black’s), Poland (this bar), and Germany (Rausch’s 43%).
70% with cranberries adds more sweetness than their other dark bars. The fruit was very fresh and chewy, a wonderful counterpoint to earthy dark chocolate.
70% with Slovenian sea salt is an adult combination with a strong, lingering finish. Unlike adding salt to caramels, or milk chocolate, where its edginess counters sweetness; here, the salt torques up and balances out the essence of this Ghanian bean.
70% Dominican bar has little pieces of candied ginger scattered on the bottom. These sugar crystal crunchy, chewy additions add extra tang and interest.
70% Ghanian with roasted cocoa nibs is fairly intense; a true bittersweet chocolate. The nibs have been added with a light hand, so the texture remains pretty smooth. Most bars with nibs are crunchy. Here, the nibs add an extra layer of chocolate without radically changing the texture.
70% Ecuadorian with chili pepper is a shiny bar with a little bite. The chili is not predominant, but supports the chocolate’s robust flavor.
I also sampled their 44% milk chocolate with hazelnuts. I am generally not a big milk chocolate fan, but I loved this. Its super creamy texture and deeper chocolate flavor were enhanced by the crunch of whole roasted hazelnuts. This bar’s wrapping is different from the dark bars, and at 100 grams it is double their size. The inner foil wrapping comes in a very pretty cardboard sleeve adorned with a whimsical design of a tree surrounded by flowers.
Right now, it seems as if the only way to order this is through their Polish website, but I’m sure it will be imported soon.