As the chocolate universe expands it is always interesting to see which areas garner the most interest. We have watched the bacon and chocolate trend, and the plethora of salt caramels, but there is one area I find particularly intriguing: super high cacao content bars. I have discussed chocolates in the over 70% range before when reviewing bars from Hachez, Askinosie, Caoni, Alter Eco, Original Beans, Pralus, and others. Like their lower cacao content siblings they range in taste, texture, and sweetness.
This new offering from Taza, is a Bolivian bean served up in their trademark sugar-crystal-crunchy way, which was a bit subdued in this 87% bar. The first thing I noticed was the crisp temper. The people at Taza write on the wrapper that this chocolate is “unrefined and intense.” The word intense can be misleading. Yes, you can have an intensely fruity chocolate, but when I think of intense, especially in reference to a super-high cacao content bar, I immediately go to bitterness and astringency. This bar has neither. In comparison to many others in the 75-90% range I found it fairly gentle, though it has a lovely hint of soil that adds complexity and depth. As a matter of fact, in a blind tasting I would wager there are 70% bars that are edgier than Taza’s 87%. It certainly delivers a super deep chocolate experience, but I didn’t find it intense. That may be because I eat so much dark chocolate. It is an excellent choice if you are venturing into the cacao stratosphere.
On reflection, and with subsequent tastings, I began to think Taza’s natural, low tech processing on granite stone mills, is particularly suited for a high cacao content bar. When you’re tasting an 87% chocolate with a mere five grams of sugar, you are getting the full flavor of the bean. Less processing brings out the earthiness without going into raw territory.
Taza seems to be on a creative high lately, what with their chocolate covered nuts (I am a huge fan of the hazelnuts) and their Chipotle bars. You may want to get on their mailing list so you can take advantage of the occasional short-term offerings, like those dark chocolate covered peanuts I recently missed.