2.8oz (80g) bar
Ingredients: 60% cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, chipotle chile, pasilla chile, sea salt, candy (sugar, corn glucose, lactose, carbon dioxide)
Corporate Info: According to its stylish website, Chuao Chocolatier is a San Diego-based company founded by two brothers from Venezuela, who named the company after a region of their homeland. Chuao's whole deal is interesting chocolate combinations, in bars like maple bacon and potato chip (see the production here), and in confections like smoky macadamia and goat cheese & pear. You can buy Chuao's products at its well-regarded retail locations in Southern California, at other select stores, or at large chains like Whole Foods and Target.
Note: The site calls Chuao the “first Venezuelan Chocolatier based in the United States,” but aside from this pricey bar I can't find a claim that their cacao is sourced in the region of Chuao or in Venezuela generally, so I won't be labeling the company single-origin.
Today's Bar: Chuao's Firecracker Bar, 60% cacao with sea salt, chipotle, and Pop-Rocks-type popping candy. Hm.
Appearance: Shiny, not especially red/orange/yellow medium brown, in an interesting mold (as you can see above). The back surface is pebbled with the candy pieces and possibly also the salt.
Smell: I mostly get a fresh/raw, sour, bitter (in a beany way, not acrid) chocolate smell, with perhaps a touch of smokiness from the chipotle but nothing obvious.
Taste: Ooh, that's fun. The chocolate is decent quality, with the beany, fresh flavor I got from the aroma. Depending on what hits your tongue first, you either get saltiness or the popping candies, which have little flavor but add a Nestle Crunch sort of crispiness that morphs into the crackle of Pop Rocks that fill your mouth as you chew but never threaten to explode—this isn't candy you'd have to eat on a dare. Chipotle is slow to arrive after the sweet-salty chocolate, mostly resulting in a slow but prominent burn in the back of the throat; a co-taster says he also feels the heat on the back of his tongue. I think I find the 60% cacao a tad too sweet for my taste, though that's after having eaten a good quarter of the bar.
Conclusion: Chuao Chocolatier Firecracker is likably crackly, smoky-burny, and sweet, a novel if not necessary combination.