Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chuao Chocolatier Salted Chocolate Crunch

2.8oz (80g) bar
Ingredients: cacao, sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, vanilla, sea salt, panko breadcrumbs (wheat flour, dextrose, yeast, salt)
15g sugar/40g serving (37.5% by wt.)

Corporate Info: (Copied from 11/17/12) 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.

Appearance: Shiny, in a grey-yellow-brown that's surprisingly a touch lighter than last week's Chuao Firecracker, despite presumably being in the same base. Maybe the chipotle darkened the other bar?

Smell: Hm, subtle, which again surprises me compared to last week's—but my co-taster says he thinks this one smells stronger. Subjective senses!

Taste: So I had to step back from sugar over the last few weeks, which explains why this 60% cacao base tastes very sweet to me. That aside, it's quite nice. The chocolate is mild but with a light, bitter aftertaste, reminiscent of the lingering taste of a cup of coffee; my co-taster similarly reflected “you can really taste the toastiness—browned, I guess a little carbonized.” The breadcrumbs offer a pleasant, crispy crunch, varied and never mushy. The well-incorporated salt rounds out the flavor, which I think of as achieving balance but my co-taster expanded, commenting on the way the toasty/bitter flavors, salt, and sweet all pull in different directions, offering a broader experience.

Conclusion: Chuao Chocolatier Salted Chocolate Crunch is both complex and well balanced, in terms of both flavor and texture.

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