Coppeneur and zotter [sic] are both companies I'd never seen before that make a ton of neat-sounding bars, but since it was early in the trip and I didn't want to commit much money or luggage space, I chose just one of each, Coppeneur's Black Beer “Black Abbot” (Schwarzbier Schwarzer Abt; click the link, then “English,” “Products,” and “Praliné Chocolates” to see the varieties in the right-hand column) and zotter's Almond with Grappa Raisins (Mandel mit Grapparosinen). Though I didn't notice it at the time (it is in fact mentioned on the wrappers), both of these are ganache-filled truffle bars rather than chocolate with inclusions.
A few brief notes on the companies: Coppeneur is German and makes not only filled bars but also single-origin chocolate, flavored bars, confections, a few organic (bio) items, and so on—and if you'd like to order from Coppeneur, this Canadian importer claims to be able to hook you up. What I saw in-store was maybe a dozen of the 30 filled Praliné bars, which all come in neat flavors like Blue Poppy Seed and Wasabi & Algae, and I figured Black Beer was interesting and a fun memento of Germany. zotter is Austrian and entirely organic and fair trade. The aesthetic is goofy and fun and the offerings are even more varied than Coppeneur's, not only bars and confections but also ganache in syringes, pink and lilac “gay and lesbian chocolate,” and chocolate liqueurs. Again I saw only, say, 15 of what is a much larger product line of “hand scooped” layered and coated bars. The fillings range from Pink Grapefruit to Port Wine, Celeriac, and Truffles, and with relatively few choices I went with Almond with Grappa Raisin. Looking at Coppeneur's and zotter's websites now, I'd love to try more from both companies.
Coppeneur Black Beer “Black Abbot”
75g (2.64oz) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, beer brandy, black beer “Schwarzer Abt” (water, barley malt, yeast, hops, invert sugar syrup), dextrose, butter, glucose syrup, cream, whole milk powder, natural flavoring, soy lecithin, vanilla.
The thing about ganaches/truffles, in bar form or not, is that the fat in the cream and/or cocoa butter mutes flavors; in my experience, the filling is usually super-rich and otherwise relatively subtle. I like big old punches of flavor in my chocolate (perhaps due to my American/Hawaiian palate), and I'm still learning to appreciate nuance.
That's what's going on here: mild dark (70%) chocolate encasing a subtly complex, stiff, fatty center, and I'm having trouble picking out the flavors. Coppeneur lists the tasting notes of its bars at the bottom of the label; here you can see this bar categorized as “spicy” and “sharp” (the site I use translates würzig “full-flavored” as well as “spicy”), but I'm not sure I'm able to taste these. Just think of them as complex and subtle.
What can we learn about beer-flavored chocolate from it? Well, maybe I'm imposing based on the name, but I'd venture that while this isn't at all bitter or alcoholic, it is sort of malty, like the flavors you get in beer after you get past the bitterness, and that's kind of fun.
zotter Almond with Grappa Raisins
Ingredients: Organic fair trade raw cane sugar, oft. cocoa mass, o. almonds, oft. cocoa butter, o. raisins, o. whole milk powder, o. butter, o. Grappa, oft. whole cane sugar, o. sweet whey powder, salt, o. ginger powder, o. vanilla, o. soy lecithin.
This bar has more prominent flavor than the above, not to mention some variation in texture. With the outside's sharp corners I half expected it to contain wafers or something, but it's all truffle, only not smooth truffle: The ganache is blended with ground almonds, with an occasional tiny raisin resting along the bottom. The flavor is creamy, nutty, sweet, and a little salty, with the grappa-soaked raisins making things interesting. Everything in between is fatty richness, but with all those tiny nut pieces and moist raisins and that pinch of salt, it's not like eating a piece of butter. As for the grappa, I pulled out a piece of raisin alone and tried it, and I think it gave me a little more than the usual caramel-fruit flavor, but it was hard to tell.
What can we learn about inclusions from this bar? Fruits and nuts can be intriguing, in both texture and flavor! The ground almonds, raisins “layered” at the bottom, the addition of salt that just barely reminded me of a Reese's peanut butter cup—they all made this a pretty neat bar, and I'd like to try more from zotter.