Ingredients: Cocoa, sugar, crystallized orange peel, cocoa butter
Chocolate with orange is not a novel flavor combination. Christmas wouldn't be the same to many Americans without the interactive, decadent fun of a Terry's chocolate orange. Theo's Classic collection takes a more restrained approach with a dark chocolate bar infused with orange oil. And for all out orange flavor, many confectioners offer chocolate covered sticks of orange jelly or glaceed orange peel—sometimes chewy, sometimes soft, but always more syrupy candy than sultry chocolate.
So what's so special about Claudio Corallo's take? Well, it's just different. For starters, Claudio Corallo's bars don't look like the usual, orange or otherwise. The finish is dull, not glossy, and the bars don't appear molded but rather spread thin and cut into rectangular slabs. (They also come two slabs to a “bar” or, in the larger package, as several slabs nestled tightly in a cardboard box.) There's something appealing about a matte finish and an imperfect shape, something rawer and closer to the bean than what's apparent from the candy-gloss surface of a precisely molded product. What's more, the bars smell like the tropics, a heady perfume of flowers and fruit, nothing spicy or caramelized or Christmasy about them.
Back to the orange: Claudio Corallo is using 75% cacao, and for what it's worth, there is no vanilla or other flavoring besides the orange. The soft crystallized orange pieces, lightly scattered within the bar, are more slightly bitter orange than sugar; they're not so much a tangible orange candy as a subtle flavor element. I found the chocolate and orange to be inseparable, so I will describe them together as sweet and orange-fragrant, with the barest touch of tang and a long finish. The flavor is not bitter or especially intense, but I also wouldn't describe it as mild, because it doesn't have the creamy, muted smoothness of some bars. It's treading the line between raw and finished, tropical bean and mellow candy. I find it fairly sweet, so to my taste I could have used a darker chocolate, but I imagine it's plenty dark for most people and I do think it strikes a good balance.
As I've said, this stuff ain't cheap, but it's a very interesting way to calibrate your palate, explore the boundaries of what chocolate and citrus can be, and transport yourself to the tropics in a way that American and European chocolates usually don't.
Conclusion: Claudio Corallo's Chocolate Laranja bar may not be what you always want from your chocolate and orange, but it's worth at least one visit—and a few dedicated minutes to sit, savor, and reflect.