Special Bean to Bar Chocolate {Review – Makers and Bars}

This post is long overdue and a true test of my insane willpower (which is surprising for this subject). I have been holding on to four special chocolate bars for about a year for a time when I can sit down and properly appreciate them. What better time to tuck into them than Easter weekend, or the Chocolate Festival of Joy!First, is a bar that I received as a gift through the post from my parents who were on a tour of California for my mum’s 60th birthday last year. Before they set out on their travels I set them a list of must visit places

First, is a bar that I received as a gift through the post from my parents who were on a tour of California for my mum’s 60th birthday last year. Before they set out on their travels I set them a list of must visit places on their adventure, one being Dandelion Chocolate Factory in San Francisco. I had been introduced to their chocolate through a Paul A. Young tasting and been a fan since. I was getting photos of luxurious hot chocolate and liquid chocolate being poured by hand into awaiting moulds, which only made me more envious I wasn’t there to experience it myself.

However, a parcel with many star-spangled stamps landed on my doormat and the contents made me beyond happy. Nestled around a poster of the bean to bar process was a bar of Dandelion Chocolate flown all the way from San Francisco just for my enjoyment. Haven’t I got the best parents.

I always think there is something sacred about sliding your finger  along the back seal of a wrapper and exposing the treasure that lies beneath. The 70% Mantano, Venezuela, the beans for this bar come from Coperativa Flor de Mantuano, a small-scale, women-run cooperative on the northern Venezuelan coast. All of Dandelion’s single-origin bars are made with just cocoa beans and sugar, no added cocoa butter, lecithin, or vanilla. In turn, this bar, where the beans have been roasted at a high temperature for a short time, result in an earthy, deep developed roast flavour where the chocolate could easily be bitter however is lacking in any acrid after taste just a pleasant lingering flavour. A bar for an adult palate but can be savoured slowly.

Dandelion Chocolate 70% Mantano, Venezuela

Dandelion Chocolate 70% Mantano, Venezuela

My next bar was picked up on one of my many trips to London and was drawn straight away to the gorgeous packaging of this bar then the amazing sounding flavour. Dick Taylor, originally carpenters and boat makers (as a nod to their past professions on the packaging) based on California sourcing fair-trade organic cacao beans to make wonderful bars of chocolate.

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate Maple CoconutDick Taylor Craft Chocolate Maple Coconut

Once you’ve gotten through the beautiful packaging you are greeted by a stunning moulded bar of chocolate. Intricate and delicate, a sign of a perfectly crafted chocolate due to the fine moulding of the chocolate. A rare gem and shows the craftsmanship that has gone into this bar.

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate Maple Coconut

On the other side of the bar, snowed with toasted desiccated coconut to pair its tropical nutty notes with the delicate smooth chocolate with a hint of sweetness from the maple syrup. A joy to eat and I challenge anyone to not enjoy this bar of loveliness.

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate Maple Coconut

Chocolate bars have almost become souvenirs of my travels in recent years, which I think you can agree are much more fun collecting than the usual tat you pick up at the airport. My poor family and friends are dragged into deli’s and gastronomic supermarkets wherever we go in the search for new chocolatey discoveries. Amedei Tuscany, not only made by one of the few chocolate producers in Italy but by a woman, Cecilia Tessieri (the only woman in the world to claim the title of Chocolatier) who’s love of chocolate has driven her to make some of the finest bean to bar chocolate around.

I picked up the following bar up in a deli in Bologna when I was visiting last January and was excited by its clean lines and design. Which I tucked away in my hand luggage as the treasure it truely is.

Amedei Tuscany 70% Chuao Chocolate

For a high cocoa solid bar, there may be a misconception that this bar would be a rather punchy flavour and a bit of an acquired taste. However, this is definitely not the case with this Chuao 70% bar. Delightfully fruity notes, with a soft rounded mouthfeel with a richness that lingers and continues to open out and develop on the palate. A masterpiece of a bar, where the beans and care of the marker really shine through.

Amedei Tuscany 70% Chuao Chocolate

Lastly, seen as the pioneers when it comes to bean to bar chocolate is Mast Brothers. Unfortunately, the brothers have been the centre of some negative press recently regarding their earlier days process, however I believe that they were pinnacle to shining a light on the world of bean to bar chocolate which since the early 2000’s have been growing strength to strength, giving us now such a wonderful scope of different producers and bars for us to savour.

Having picked up a bar of their Crown Maple as one of my first bean to bar chocolate’s to try out, which in turn led me to sign up to the brilliant Cocoa Runner parcels to experience more wonderful producers than I could ever dream off. This opened my eyes and heart to a whole new world of chocolate and possibilities.

The Crown Maple as you imagine has a rich maple flavour of buttery nutty notes with a robust body of flavour. The bar is not as smooth texture as the other bean to bar chocolates but that can be an acquired taste, I personally don’t mind it and actually find it add interest to the collection. Which has led me to purchase more of their bars when visiting their London shop, which I will write about soon.

Mast Brothers Crown Maple Chocolate Mast Brothers Crown Maple Chocolate

There you have it. Four amazing bars and their makers who are doing some of the finest work in the world of chocolate. I have many more bars to write about including three from my recent trip to Paris. So whether you are tucking into a Cadbury Cream Egg or a Grand Cru Single Origin Chocolate bar this Easter, I hope you have a chocolatey one!

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