Scharffen-Berger El Carmen 75% and Kumasi Sambirano 68%

This may be a bit of a frustrating post because the two chocolates I’m reviewing are no longer available.  So why still review them you might ask.  Because, if you put your name on the Scharffen-Berger email list they’ll tell you when they have a new batch of some small production bar.   I haven’t taken advantage of all their similar offerings because it’s a gamble and I wasn’t always in the mood for a complete surprise, but based on these two selections you might want to take a chance the next time one comes around.

The El Carmen 75% uses beans from Venezuela.  Despite what I said in a previous post about possible pollution in Lake Maracaibo, I think beans from this region are exemplary.   I’m not one who really grooves on the snap of a chocolate bar, but if you are this one has a nice sound. I am a bit of a sucker for attractive embossing on my chocolate and Scharffen-Berger has lovely markings and triangular separations. Texture is important to me and this bar has just enough creaminess to set it apart from many high cocao content bars that can feel as if the Sahara somehow landed in your mouth.  The bitter/sweet balance couldn’t have been better.  There’s a hint of caramel, a slight woodsy flavor that adds just enough robustness, and a rounding out of all its particulars via superb roasting (not too long and not too short). I’d buy this again in a heartbeat.

The Kumasi Sambirano 68% is probably more suited to most people’s taste as it’s a bit less complex and sweeter.  These beans hail from Ghana and Madagascar.  There’s a beautiful snap,  and a fairly creamy texture.   Here, intensity and sweetness have a happy little pas de deux. I prefer the El Carmen, but this is also a delicious example of the chocolatier’s art.



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