Saturday, April 28, 2012

Madécasse Exotic Pepper

2.64oz (75g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, tsiperifery pepper, pink pepper, black pepper
10g sugar/37.5g serving (26.7% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Altered from 4/21/12) Madécasse has one of those interesting progressive-chocolate-company stories: The American founders met as Peace Corps volunteers in Madagascar and decided to not only grow their cacao there (not unusual) but also process and package the chocolate there to benefit the local community. The company claims to be paying good wages and using sustainable farming practices, and has impressed The New York Times and Fast Company (among others) with its commitment and innovation. The bars are not officially labeled fair trade or organic, but from what I read, the process is essentially a variation on both of those complicated labels. Madécasse—the name is apparently old French for Madagascar—produces a relatively small selection of plain chocolate and bars flavored with Madagascar-sourced inclusions like coffee and spices.

This Bar: Today I'm following last week's pink peppercorn and combava bar with another pepper combination, this time in 70% cacao: black pepper, pink pepper again, and tsiperifery pepper (or, from what I'm seeing online, Voatsiperifery). The last seems to be a Madagascar native, and I'm mostly just finding it on commercial sites, described by one as “pungent . . . earthy and woody . . . a wee bit sweet . . . distinct fragrance . . . citrus notes . . . long lasting and without rage.” Neat.

Appearance: Glossy, vivid chestnut brown.

Smell: Not strong, beany, with a hint of black pepper

Taste: Waxy texture followed by low- to mid-volume, integrated, very complex pepper flavor, from classic black pepper to more tingly, herby, “green” flavors to dried, woodsy, “brown” flavors. The flavor of the chocolate itself is raw and beany (as opposed to smooth, creamy, roasted, etc), which makes the whole experience very earthy. The flavor is a bit of a contrast with the waxy texture, and now that I think of it, I think that the texture, along with the low-medium volume of the pepper, keeps this bar from being overwhelmingly earthy (it un-grounds it, heh).

Often I eat a bar and struggle to figure out what to say about it—“it tastes like chocolate”—so it's always a fun to encounter one that gives me food for thought, as it were. Do I absolutely love this? I dunno. But I like the thought behind it, and the thoughts that arise when I eat it.

Conclusion: Madécasse Exotic Pepper is earthy and complex but not overwhelming, and it offers a lot to ponder.

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