There are so many factors that go into enjoying something, not the least of which is visual. Before I even tried these chocolates from Rausch, I was drawn in by their long, narrow, stick-like shape. The treasure chest box of mini Rausch pieces also beguiled me, as it accessed some childhood memory of Pirate’s booty. All six varieties are also available in traditional rectangular bars, if you prefer a classic shape.
With a name like Plantation Chocolates, you know each of these hails from a unique geographical location.
Nouméa, from Papua New Guinea, at 35% is the milkiest of the bunch and would appeal to anyone who loves a rich flavor profile with lower cacao solids.
Mandanga, 39%, uses beans harvested from Madagascar. Also creamy, it boasts a slightly crisper temper, and a bit more edge, though neither bar is remotely bitter.
Puerto Cabello, 43%, from Venezuela, is for those who want a high cocoa content bar with all the richness of a milk chocolate.
I liked the last two best.
The three dark bars were:
Amacado, 60%, from Peru, a very snappily tempered bar with a supremely rounded, balanced flavor almost anyone would enjoy.
El Cuador, 70%, from Ecuador, even more exquisitely tempered with a drier finish, hints of dark fruits, a scintilla of tobacco, and just enough bitterness to keep me coming back for more.
Tobago, named for its source, is a 75% beauty. While it is higher in cacao solids than the previous bar, it was just as easy to eat, since the main notes are fruitier.
The last two have deeply satisfying lingering finishes, long flavor profiles, and that very fetching edge.
For those of you who make your own chocolates, I just tempered the 70% for chocolate clusters and they came out perfectly. The chocolate was fairly thin when heated, which made it very easy to work with, and it set up quickly with a glossy shine and an excellent snap. I was delighted with the results.