Saturday, December 22, 2012

Madre Chocolate Hibiscus Dark Chocolate

1.5oz (43g) bar
Ingredients: Organic fair trade cacao beans, o. cane sugar, o. cocoa butter, Mexican whole vanilla, o. hibiscus, o. bergamot oil

Corporate Info: (Altered from 8/11/12) Madre is basically brand new (circa early 2011), the brainchild of a traveler working on social justice in Central America and a botanist with a focus on food and medicinal plants. There's a lot of passion behind everything written about the company: the “About Us” page of their website, the focus on ecology and direct contact with cacao farmers, the now-funded Kickstarter, and even reviews by fans of their chocolate and their shop in Kailua. The cacao is grown organically, some on the Big Island (in the only U.S. state in which this is possible) and some in Central America, and they make the chocolate bean-to-bar in Hawaii. Madre has already been talked up in Saveur and, at greater length, by food personality Aida Mollenkamp after she visited the founders in Hawaii.

Madre currently produces two lines of chocolate, one inspired by Latin American cacao and flavorings and the other using Hawaiian cacao and flavorings. As you might imagine, this is not cheap chocolate: All bars are 1.5oz (half the size of most common chocolate bars) and range from $6 to $10 each on the website, and they may cost slightly more in stores. The bars are sold all over Hawaii, but they look to be spreading quickly to high-end and specialty stores in the U.S. and abroad.

Today's Bar: Hibiscus in 70% cacao, which I picked up from Madre's booth at the Northwest Chocolate Festival back in September. This bar is made with Dominican cacao, and includes not only hibiscus but also bergamot oil as a flavoring. I expect the hibiscus to impart a bright, sour note; I'm less familiar with bergamot outside of Earl Grey tea, but Wikipedia says that it's the bitter, sour, fragrant skin of the citrus fruit that is used as a flavoring. Here, I assume it will add complexity to the clear tartness of the hibiscus.

Appearance: Madre's usual funky mold, semi-glossy, in a pleasant, creamy-looking orangey brown.

Smell: Slightly acrid, fresh, and spicy.

Taste: I tried this bar at the festival and liked it, so though I didn't remember the nuances, I knew I would enjoy it. The chocolate itself is crunchy melting to waxy, rich, and not too sweet. I can definitely sense the bergamot in here, as the flavor is layered, with the bitter, fragrant citrus rind oil, the straightforward, fruity sourness of hibiscus, the fresh, tropical cacao, and the sweet sugar to anchor it all.

Conclusion: Madre Chocolate Hibiscus Dark Chocolate is a well-crafted layering of fresh, sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.

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