Tag Archives: Jamaican Chocolate

Szántó Tibor Chocolate

As you already know, each chocolatier creates different tastes and textures, even if they use the same beans and equipment. So, you can have a company that produces stone ground bean to bar chocolate that has a very coarse grainy texture, or a more refined texture. You can even have one company that creates varying textures using the same machinery, like Szántó Tibor.

These bars are packaged in a fetchingly designed cardboard box adorned with dark brown images that relate to chocolate consumption, chocolate love, and chocolate manufacture. Much to my delight, they have inner resealable cellophane wrappers.

All of the chocolates I tried are 70%, and tempered to an audible snap. A free-form design of a cocoa tree looks as if it has been engraved on each. The thinness of all the bars allows them to melt more quickly providing a turbo-charged cacao delivery system.

Here’s the run-down:

Cacao Roja from Honduras has an earthy profile and a slight acidic edge.

Hispaniola from San Cristobal, Santo Domingo, is another bar with hints of smoke and a touch of leather, though there is also a pronounced fruitiness. The texture is smoother than the Cacao Roja.

Trinitario from S. Elizabeth, Jamaica is complex with oak, smoke, and spicy flavors. Again, the texture is smoother than the Roja. The Roja is not crunchy, but there are still tiny grains of gently crunchy nibs, like little textural exclamation points.

San Cristobal from Santo Domingo is a much more grainy bar, for those of you who like to echt quality of stone ground chocolate, and it speaks in my taste buds in hushed tones of soil, forest, and citrus, with a nice short finish.

Raw Arriba from Ecuador, tastes very pure and simple, with an atypical cocoa freshness. Quite different from the floral Arribas I have reviewed in the past; probably, because of the earthier texture.

Inti from Ayacucho, Peru, has a smooth, slightly creamier texture and hints of raisin and tobacco.

Cacao Blanco from Nicaragua has a whiffs of coffee and tobacco in a more conched, hence silkier, texture.

Malagasy Criollo from Millot, Madagascar (from the 2012 spring harvest), reveals apricot and lychee, giving it a bit of a dry finish.

My favorite was the Criollo from Venezuela, an Academy of Chocolate Bronze winner for 2013. I am partial to Criollos, and this bar is superb. The texture is velvety, the flavor both elegant and full of nuance. A little peach, a bit of grape, a melange of fruit notes without the citrus that leave my palate feeling fully sated from its deep chocolate presence and soft, but lingering finish.

For all you chocophiles who want to know more, there is a plethora of information on their website: http://www.szantotibor.com/

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Black River Single Origin Chocolate

What is it about opening a beautiful box of chocolates that is so enticing? When they’re from Black River, the answer is twofold. First, there’s the elegant black fabric box with its magnetic closure just begging to be repurposed as a jewelry box. Then, there’s the tempting array of chocolates made with single origin beans from Jamaica.

I sampled 16 different bonbons, including Black River’s luscious emerald pistachio with almond paste, to a natural hazelnut praline that just melted in my mouth. In between, there was a praline of burned cream reminiscent of the charred exterior of a fiery marshmallow, a praline with coffee that gently nudged the chocolate-nut mixture into mocha, and a praline with roasted whole hazelnuts. I loved the passion fruit ganache, its superbly creamy texture redolent of the tropics, and the little surprise of candied orange peel in the middle of the silky interior of praline with orange confit.

Every chocolate tasted as if it had just been made. The shells were a perfect thickness, not so thin as to have no presence, and not so thick they overwhelmed the fillings. This attention to detail made each morsel a gustatory experience to savor.

Black River Chocolate also offers a 100 gram bar and 5 gram Napolitans all made with the same Jamaican single origin beans. In their purer state, it’s easy to see how seductive this complex chocolate is. The slightly dry edge, beautiful crisp temper, earthy profile, dark fruit notes, hints of charcoal-smokiness, and creamy texture were incredibly satisfying.