Tag Archives: award winning chocolate

Potomac Chocolate

Res ipsa loquitor is a Latin phrase used in legal parlance to mean the thing speaks for itself. Potomac’s chocolate bars truly speak for themselves, each in its own chocolate lexicon.

Ben Rasmussen, Potomac’s founder, is a truly gifted chocolatier. I first reviewed his bars in 2011. I loved them then and I’m even more smitten now. Each has its own personality, yet you could do a seamless tasting with any or all of them.

The beans must be in chocolate heaven as Ben has managed to deftly coax them into beautifully tempered, silky textured, bars. Each has a charming little school of fish etched on its surface, with one little straggler trying to catch up from the bottom. So whimsical, poetic and enchanting.

Packaging is important to me and these reclosable envelopes ensure freshness, even after opening, while keeping all the little fishies safe and sound.

The Duarte bar, 70%, made with Dominican Republic beans is luxurious in every way. Its velvety texture releases beautifully balanced fruity flavors with low acidity. This allowed me to concentrate on the more subtle nuances of this eminently addictive chocolate.

The 70% San Martin bar from Peruvian beans melts a bit more slowly, sports a slightly dryer finish and has an edgier vibe of banana, raisin and berries.

Tumaco, 70%, is a limited release from Colombia. I tasted dark fruits with floral notes in a texture of fudgy chocolate.

The above three bars are made with only two ingredients: beans and sugar. No vanilla to distract you from the beans releasing their true nature and personality.

The two milk bars I tried were as different as chalk and cheese. The 65% Dark Milk with Peruvian beans from San Martin has a distinctly caramel presence. The Toasted Milk, 49%, made with beans from Peru and the Dominican Republic, is creamier, even more redolent of caramel, with the added complexity of toasted whole milk powder.

Upala 85%, from Costa Rica is super rich, chocolaty, and earthy. Coffee and roasted nut flavors predominated.

The limited release 70% Peppermint bar is made with Doscher’s Old-Fashioned Peppermint Candy Canes. (Doscher’s has been making these candy canes using the same recipe and equipment since they opened in 1871.) I adored this perfectly balanced bar…a little sweetness, deep chocolate flavor and perky, crunchy bits of peppermint candy. Totally addictive.

70% Dark with Coconut was another favorite. This is a combination of beans from Peru and the Dominican Republic. Crunchy, chewy coconut was balanced by velvety textured chocolate.

The 70% with Sea Salt bar has a piquancy that points up the chocolate in a different way, highlighting the bean’s bright citrus notes. These beans are from the Amazonian highlands of San Martín, Peru.

Spice, 70%, with the same Dominican Republic beans as the Duarte bar, is spiced with cinnamon, sea salt, and aleppo chili pepper. A heady mix that simultaneously gives you warmth, spiciness, and that slightly salty edge. If you love Mexican hot chocolate this is for you.

Bread, 70%, made with those delicious Duarte bar beans, was unique and craveable. Ben uses his homemade, lightly toasted sourdough breadcrumbs to add a wonderful delicate crunch, and perks up the flavors with a hint of sea salt.

These are all the work of a very talented and creative soul. I could taste the love, creativity and attention to detail in each bite.

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The Chocolate Tree

Whether you are seeking out the unusual or the elegant, you will find a plethora of choices at The Chocolate Tree. This award winning organic, bean to bar chocolate hails from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Among their offerings is a pretty far-out Haggis inspired chocolate: The Chieftan. 32 little dark squares, each redolent of Haggis—yes, Haggis—provide a slightly oaty, crunchy, experience infused with unforgettable warming Haggis spices: black pepper, rosemary, sea salt, coriander seed, mace, and thyme. It’s a heady ride and sates one’s curiosity for Haggis without the sheep’s stomach. Frankly, I had Haggis many moons ago and vastly prefer this rendition. Of course, I am not a Scot and devoid of that collective unconscious connection to the real thing.

In addition to the Chieftan, I also tried two of their supremely beautiful and toothsome small batch bars, wrapped in lovely heavy stock floral paper. I especially liked the surprise of finding two 45 gram rectangles cached within each parcel. The chocolate is molded into a modern bas relief design of leaves and flowers, and divided into eight squares.

Their 50% Dark Milk Ecuadorian Arriba is conched for 60 hours yielding a super smooth, creamy texture that compliments the fruitiness of this renowned bean. A delicious choice for those fond of high quality dark milks.

The 72% Orange & Salt bars using Criollo beans from Madagascar conched for 45 hours, have just enough Pink Lake salt to perk up the flavor and texture of this addictive chocolate. One whiff set me up for the complex, yet subtle, melding of Criollo, essence of orange, and sea salt, all in a well-tempered bar. Incidentally, this one deservedly won the International Chocolate Awards European Silver medal for 2013.