These superbly tempered bars by Jessica and Charley Wheelock in Portland, Oregon, are so shiny I could almost see myself in their reflection. Their snap is audible, and the 25 gram size is just perfect for one decadent gustatory exploration.
I sampled three, two from Costa Rica, and one from Ecuador. All were memorable.
One of the Costa Rican bars was enhanced with sea salt. I say enhanced because a very deft hand gently sprinkled some crystals on the bottom of this bar. The result was just a hint of salt, enough to bring up all the deep, complex, earthy, yet sophisticated flavors with notes of leather, plum, and raisin. The texture was creamy, and the finish a bit dry and lingering.
The second Costa Rican 70% was sprinkled with sea salt and nibs. Again, the restraint with which these were added provided enough crunch without overwhelming the delicious chocolate.
The Ecuadorian bar with nibs and salt had a gentler flavor profile. The chocolate was fruitier and gentler, but still held my interest. The finish a bit shorter and a tad less dry.
The Wheelock’s have a bean to bar operation. They source, roast, crack, winnow, conch and age their chocolate, and their enthusiasm and attention to detail is obvious in each satisfying bite.