As far as I’m concerned, Criollo beans are one of nature’s greatest accomplishments. Michael Mischer has taken Criollos from Venezuela (65%) and Equador (72%) and enhanced them with everything from Murray River sea salt to dragon fruit.
Aside from his great taste in cacao beans, Michael has an artist’s sensibilities. He generously applies whatever toppings you wish, from a long list including, but not limited to: caramelized cocoa nibs, cayenne spiced mango, cherries, cranberries, pistachios, mixed nuts and fruit, ginger, and orange. So, you can mix and match all the various toppings with three basic chocolates: Venezuelan Criollo 38% or 65%, or Equadorian 72%. This isn’t merely delicious, it’s creative and fun.
I know I’m usually enraptured with add-ins, but the chocolate is stupendous. I tried three bars:
72% with Murray River Sea Salt and Almonds: The almonds are roasted, the chocolate is dark but creamy, and the salt adds a marvelous piquancy.
65% with Blueberries and Dragon Fruit: Absolutely beautiful! Unlike almost every dried blueberry and chocolate I have ever tried, these seem as if they were just dried yesterday. They’re the quintessence of blueberriness. As for dragon fruit, I had never had it before. It’s like a beautiful magenta fruit leather. I liked the combination with 65% cacao because the blueberries have a hint of astringency that’s complimented by the slightly sweeter dark Criollo chocolate.
38% with Toffee: Criollo bean milk chocolate is certainly a cut above your average milk, but it’s still a bit too sweet for me. Paired with toffee, it’s over the top; however, the toffee is addictive and I could easily imagine it on either of the dark options…too easily.
The bars are a whopping 4 ounces, and they’re divided into 24 sections. Those of you who read my blog know how much I adore it when a chocolatier uses a many-sectioned mold. What’s particularly great here is that every little piece has loads of topping. The packaging is also appealing and functional. It’s a simple clear plastic box, but it’s ingenious in its simplicity. How many times have you opened your typical bar and had a mess on your hands? You haven’t eaten the whole bar but there’s no pretty way to keep the leftovers. Michael’s design allows you to keep your treasure intact and to see exactly what’s there.
I happen to love using various tins for my extra chocolate, but the problem is I can’t see what’s in them. Typically, I forget I even have something yummy stashed nearby because it isn’t obvious. With Michael’s packaging I have neatness and visibility. How cool is that?