Founded in 1898 with a coat of arms proudly displayed on each box to add authenticity, Beschle prides itself on its commitment to originality and quality, and rightfully so.
I may have to revise my life-long aversion to white chocolate after tasting Beschel’s 38% Cocoa Butter with Almonds and Blueberries. Yes, there’s the classic creaminess of white chocolate, but without its typical overly sweet unctuousness. The scattering of freeze dried blueberries with occasional bits of almond make for a great experience of contrasting tastes and texture. Decadent and delicious.
Their Grand Cru Maracaibo (65%) with Hazelnuts is a treat, but I am partial to cocoa beans from Lake Maracaibo. Chocolate with 65% cocoa solids can sometimes taste too bland to me, but there is a slight edginess to this that held my interest. The hazelnuts are chopped finely, ensuring a calculated amount of crunch in every bite. This predictable experience, from one bite to the next, is different from other bars with large chunks of nuts and expanses of plain chocolate. Only you can decide which you prefer.
Also made with chocolate from Lake Maracaibo (65%) is their unusual bar with Rosemary and Lemon Thyme (and vanilla, lemon peel, and lemon oil). The 65% intensity is perfect against the herbs and lemon: not too sweet, and creamy enough to support the astringency and slight bitterness of rosemary and thyme. The lemon was a bit hard to discern. I can’t imagine craving it, but it would make an incredible addition to a chocolate tasting or for your favorite chocoholic whose jaded tastes require something new and exciting.
Next up is the Grand Cru Trinitario Madagascar (64%). A very well balanced bar that is flavored with vanilla. They claim it has a light hazelnut taste. I don’t know about that, but it certainly delivered a deeply satisfying chocolate experience, without any gustatory challenges.
Cru Sauvage (68%) from Bolivia is a completely different experience. Fruity, satisfying, and less challenging. Less challenging is not a negative comment, it’s an attribute. Sometimes, we want something that makes us take notice, and sometimes we want something adult, but easy to eat. It’s the variety that makes life interesting. If we only chose the most sophisticated, complex chocolates we might ultimately find them boring. By definition, what we have every day becomes commonplace. Eating caviar seven days a week would become routine. Part of its allure is it’s an occasional indulgence. A great grilled cheese sandwich can taste better than the fanciest fare when we’re craving something basic and satisfying. There’s nothing wrong with mixing it up, and reveling in the heterogeneity.
I also tasted two of their Quizas bars, Grand Cru and Premier Cru. Both are extraordinary. Possibly two of the best chocolates I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. These come in 50 gram bars, half the weight of all the others I tried, and the packaging is different: a beautiful dark royal blue envelope. The other bars come in a functional, attractive brown box. There is another noteworthy difference: both the 50 gram and 100 gram bars are the same size, but one is half as thin as the other. I often find thinner chocolate allows me a fuller taste experience. (See review of Charlemagne Chocolates.)
Apparently, Quizas has caused a small sensation with its Premier Cru quality: it uses Porcelana, the genetically purest Criollo cocoa bean. The Porcelana bean is so rare that, apart from Beschle, only a handful of other companies are able to use it, and some make bars that are shockingly bad, like Bonnat (see review on this site). The raw material is sourced from a secret place south of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela.
The Quizas Grand Cru from Venezuelan beans has tiny chips of cocoa nibs and 72% cocoa solids. It is celestial. The temper is remarkable, the texture couldn’t be more perfect, and the complex flavor profile: fruit, a hint of acidity, coffee, and what they call a taste of the rainforest, is perfection. I have tasted many fantastic chocolates and this ranks up there with the best of them.
The 72% Quizas Premier Cru (Ocumare) is divine. The farmers in Venezuela organized a cooperative, and they know what they’re doing. Another delightfully layered flavor profile, with caramel, coffee, a touch of acidity, a hint of spice. and a touch of leather. As with the previous bar, it is artfully tempered. A completely different experience, however, because of the absence of cocoa nibs. If I had to choose one over the other, I would pick the Grand Cru because of its incredible texture. Both had great depth and held my interest. There are six different bars in this collection.
Last, but not least, are four milk chocolate bars. These are all 100 grams. The Grand Cru Rio Huimbi (42%) is a very grown-up milk bar, but it’s still milk chocolate, and mildly flavored. It has a luscious creaminess.
The Grand Cru Au Lait (38%) is even milder and is made from Venezuelan Criollo beans. It was my least favorite of all the milk bars; simply too simple.
The Grandu Cru Montelimar with nougat (38%) was addictive as milk chocolate studded with nougat shards can be. Unlike the classic Toblerone, this bar’s nougat isn’t a dental challenge, the bits seem to melt at body temperature. Lovely texture, but a bit mild for my taste.
The Grand Cru Gianduja Aux Amandes (38%) is another sweet, milky bar but with more interest from the addition of silky, pulverized hazelnuts and almonds.
There are many more bars, truffles, and other delights on their website: http://www.beschlechocolatier.com