I thought I’d start with my favorite chocolate: Valrhona’s Palmira, a standout in the field of plain bars. They use the Criollo bean (a fairly rare variety) and it tastes different from anything else I have ever sampled. This is deeply flavored chocolate, but it isn’t bitter. The complex tastes hit you as the chocolate melts in your mouth. Eating a piece of Palmira, with its luscious, smooth texture is truly transporting.
You can still buy bars from the 2005 harvest. Normally, I find chocolate does not age well, but these bars have stood the test of time. I liked the ’05 better than the ’06, but only by a slim margin. Yesterday, I received the 2007 vintage bar from chocosphere.com (one of my favorite on line sellers) and found it sublime.
Many high cocoa content bars have a dry texture, but Palmira is smooth. They add cocoa butter and that certainly enhances the texture, but the depth of flavor comes directly from the Venezuelan criollo bean.