Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pacari Chocolate Covered Cacao Beans

90g (3.17oz) box; mine contained 31 chocolate covered beans
Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, o. cane sugar, o. cocoa powder, o. sunflower lecithin

Corporate Info: Pacari Chocolate is single-origin (Ecuador), organic, and according to them, fair trade minus the certification. Most of what I'm seeing about the company is from commercial sites, so I'll just say that they sound good, in an upscale, rainforesty sort of way: Pacari offers local-origin bars from different plantations, flavored bars, chocolate covered tropical things (fruits, coffee beans, etc), and a few other earthy-crunchy-super-local items, including today's chocolate covered cacao beans dusted with cocoa powder.

Appearance: Dusty, oblong, irregular. Appealingly rugged.

Smell: Intense, sharp, with warm notes—ginger, cardamom, that kind of vibe.

Taste: In layers, what you've got is: First, a fine dusting of powder that has almost no taste; its only real effect is allowing the chocolate underneath to remain both protected and creamy, which is to my mind preferable to to the shiny, shellacked texture of some other chocolate-covered treats. Second, a medium-thin layer of creamy, tart chocolate. If you sit and savor that layer it's actually raw-tasting compared to other chocolate, but if you mostly chomp down like I am, the contrast with the cacao bean makes it seem very smooth and sweet. Finally, a large cacao bean with a papery outside and nut-textured, crunchy-crumbly inside. The bean is almost deceptively neutral flavored in its unrefined, unsweetened, low-bitterness, nutty non-intensity. I've eaten nibs that had a more distinctive, banana-tropical flavor that these beans don't, and I like these here. Very good.

Conclusion: Pacari Chocolate Covered Cacao Beans are rustic, have nice texture and flavor contrast, and are easy to keep eating. Warning: Too many can make you (me) hyperactive!

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