Chuao Chocolatier was one of my biggest discoveries back when I was beginning to expand my horizons with candy tasting. I first tasted their work at the All Candy Expo in 2007 and was immediately hooked. I believe it was the Spicy Maya ChocoPod that I tried first and had sold me completely. Since then I have eaten my way through all their offerings and was excited to learn of a new chocolate flavor that they cooked up.
The newest member to the Chuao Bar and ChocoPod family is the Firecracker: dark chocolate, chipotle, salt and popping candy. What a fascinating combination! It certainly fits the company motto of “Unusual Unexpected & Delicious”. Another point I’d like to make is that Chuao use the Venezuelan chocolate El Rey for all their confections. This is part of the reason why it stands out to me so much, since I am a big fan of the El Rey couveture.
The bar smells chocolatey and spicy. There’s a heat to the aroma and it’s hard to lay my finger on exactly what it is.
The chocolate is firm and has an excellent snap. Upon the first bite, it’s briefly sweet, then you feel the popping candy start to crackle on your tongue. The tingling sensation from the candy holds your attention until the chipotle kicks in, and I must say, this is the strongest chili presence I’ve had in chocolate to date. It’s a very smooth, smoky and powerful burn that matches the 60% bittersweet chocolate well. It leaves a burn still even once you’ve swallowed, and you can feel the heat all over your mouth and throat. It was never too much spice, but it’s certainly not for the weak and delicate.
This is an excellent example of how chocolate can be a medium of delivering interesting flavors while not directing too much attention to itself, and still be delicious.
Rating: Will Eat Again
The last of the Dolfin’s summer limited edition bars. Aren’t you sad? I assure you this is the last, but not the least! In fact, this is the one I looked forward to trying most of of the four I bought, so I saved it for the end.
This one is called “Fruity Escapade” and carried the description of: “dark chocolate with apple, peach & apricot”. Granted, I realize that these flavors cane be easily muddled together in chocolate, so I’m very interested to taste if they keep their separate flavor profiles or not. Only one way to find out!
The color of the chocolate is a bit more blue than the others. It smells deep and chocolatey with a strikingly intense scent of fresh apricots. It’s such an intoxicating aroma, I could just sit and inhale it all day.
This is very flavorful of the apricot right away with light peach notes that are rounded out with apple and a slight citrusy tartness. The chocolate delivers a solid base with good notes of cocoa, cream and caramel flavors. The peach and apple support the apricot flavor instead of standing independently. The apricot is really the dominant flavor here. It’s lovely. So, so lovely. The taste stays steady throughout and the finish is light, soft and slightly peachy. The texture is smooth except for the small bits of dried fruit in there.
Again, a lovely flavored chocolate bar that I wish was still around to purchase. Maybe again this summer?
I had to laugh when I first read the name of today’s Dolfin’s limited edition chocolate bar: “Fancy Lemon Feeling”. Doesn’t that sound like some silly Engrish to you? The flavors in this bar are described as “dark chocolate made with lemon and ginger”, two flavors that I think can make or break a chocolate depending on how it’s made. I’m eager to find out.
The chocolate is dark in color with orange undertones. It smells very strongly of lemon and I’m immediately reminded of lemon meringue pie. It’s fresh, sweet and terribly zesty with a hint of ginger that delivers an extra element of pie spice. Breaking off a section, I’m pleased to see that the snap is nice and hard.
You taste notes of the chocolate first: lightly sweet with notes of coffee and molasses. The lemon flavor then shows up with strong citrus notes and a good zest. The ginger appears last as a texture which is slightly grainy in the chocolate. It then gives a very faint burn that it nice amidst the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients, yet it doesn’t add much to the flavor. The chocolate and lemon mix well for most of the taste of the bar. There’s a huge lemon crescendo of lemon at the finish, which is so strong it tastes as if I just bit into one. It really just drowns everything else out. Very unusual but very pleasant. The aftertaste is clean, but the bits of ginger that didn’t dissolve away with the chocolate are left as tiny rocks to tackle my teeth.
I wish I could find more of these. I’d buy them all up.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Here’s the second Dolfin summer edition chocolate bars. This one is pretty appropriate with its name: “Summer Memories”, as summer is indeed a memory as of now. The flavor is “Apple crumble” with “apple, hazelnuts and sugar cane” in it. I don’t know about you, but apple crumble is more of a fall dessert in my mind. I digress.
Today’s bar is a darker chocolate, a 60% bittersweet to be exact. The chocolate’s color is very dark, with blue-ish tones to it and a bright gloss. You can see the bits of apple and/or hazelnuts in the back of the bar. The snap is very crisp and strong.
The aroma is spicy like a lot of cinnamon chili bars I’ve had before. There’s notes of coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili.
The flavor begins sweetly and I get a “warmth” from the cinnamon with some nice creamy flavors of the chocolate. Then it’s accented with flavors of coffee and caramel. The end of the flavor is very chocolatey with a strong cream note and then it finishes smooth and lightly with subtle notes of vanilla and cocoa. I’m sad to say I don’t get any apple of hazelnut flavor, which I find quite disappointing. The hazelnut texture I do detect amidst the velvety chocolate. The tiny pieces impart a praline like crunch.
I’d buy “Southern Passion” before getting this one again.
Rating: Might Eat Again
El Rey is a chocolate brand that’s known far and wide amongst fellow chocolate enthusiasts. They’re a Venezuelan based chocolate and have many fans, with many of them chefs, because of it’s excellent flavor and quality. I picked up this 61% Mijao (Venezuelan singe bean origin “Carenero Superior”) bar in Whole Foods eager to taste this greatness for myself and put my tasting skills to good work.
Unwrapping the bar, the chocolate is gorgeous to look at with very dark in color with reddish undertones. There’s not a lot of gloss to it, only a subtle sheen, but still beautiful. The pieces have a great hard snap and clean break. The pieces sound crisp, like dominoes, when they clink together.
The smell is very bright and vibrant of coffee, red fruits, cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and a hint of raisins. It’s a wonderful combination of aromas, and it makes me even more anxious to taste it!
The snap is very hard and robust. In the mouth I found chewing the chocolate was useful in coaxing the flavors out. Once it starts melting it has a nice smooth feel to it. The flavor is very mild and “green” at first, I get notes of forest, asparagus and green coffee. Then the taste mellows into cream, caramel and cappuccino in the middle, then the finish is bright with a light tartness of berries mixed with more cream notes. The aftertaste is very fresh and clean with light notes of the green coffee, but they are barely noticeable.
Oh yum! I now know what the fuss is all about. A beautiful bittersweet chocolate to invest in, whether you intend to bake with it or, as I prefer, to eat it straight.
Rating: Will Buy Again
El Rey Website