Another year full of even more chocolate has come and gone bringing us to the 3rd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate awards for 2018.
The same rule from the past applies to these awards: Only bars I have purchased are eligible for awards. As usual, some of these bars might still exist in a makers collection and some may have been limited edition only. (Keep in mind that each year/harvest is different and as chocolate makers tweak recipes, bar tasting notes are subject to change). Full tasting notes for each bar may be found on this blog, or on my Instagram account.
And now the winners are…
Best Coffee Chocolate Bar:
I tried several bars with coffee in them this year. What made the top 3 stand out the most, besides the overall great flavors, was that while often coffee can end up a bit stale-tasting in bars, these 3 managed to convey the feeling of having a fresh cup of coffee.
3rd place goes to Hogarth’s Espresso Bar with Dominican Oko Caribe cacao & Pomeroy’s Coffee. This bar has tastes that included lemon, grape, lavender, mocha and bright coffee.
Hogarth’s Espresso Bar (The packaging has changed since I took this photo)
Recently Dormouse Chocolates conducted an experiment of making two special chocolate bars: one from reddish-brown cacao pods only and a separate one with beans from yellow pods only, with the assistance of Kablon Farms in South Cotabato in the Philippines. Kablon Farms kept the reddish-brown and yellow pods separated and Dormouse Chocolates conducted the same roast, recipe and time of conching for each bar to see if there was a difference in taste with bars made with beans from different colored pods. Will there be? Let’s find out!
I can’t believe another amazing craft chocolate tasting year has past! That means it’s time for the 2nd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards.
I have only included bars I have purchased myself. I’m also only including bars that I tried in 2017, so some of these bars might be new creations and some may be part of a maker’s permanent collection.
Full reviews of the winning bars are available on this blog or on my IG account.
Welcome to Part 1 of the next installment of the Dark Matters Tasters and Makers Series. I was originally planning to make this round all about white chocolate, and then ruby chocolate was announced, so I decided to go the route of current chocolate exploration in which the Tasters and Makers could comment on ruby chocolate, white chocolate, or other any topics along those lines.
This series continues to be a space to provide the Tasters and Makers a spot to let their own thought processes and styles shine through, and give the pleasure to the readers (and the other Tasters and Makers out there) of having multiple answers to the same topics presented side-by-side. This particular round includes a surprise chocolate expert guest contributor: Clay Gordon!
Now on to the current question!
Question: How do you feel about living in a time where new horizons in chocolate are being explored so widely (i.e. ruby chocolate, white chocolate, etc). What are the downfalls in this exploration by chocolate makers? What are the benefits?
(When I say, “white chocolate” my thinking was along the lines of how white chocolate has changed with single-origin cocoa butter occasionally being used, or no vanilla added, or less sugar, and so forth).
Welcome to What is Craft Chocolate Part 2. The Question asked in Part 1 last week was: The definition of craft chocolate varies so much person-to-person. How do you define craft chocolate and/or how do you think it should be defined?
And now let’s find out how more tasters and makers answer:
Hazel Lee, Bean-to-bar Maker, The Chocolate Tasting Flavour Map
Hazel Lee:I find this question a difficult one because there are no legal standards that differentiate craft/bean-to-bar chocolate from standard, poor quality bulk chocolate and one could argue any chocolate to be “craft” or “bean-to-bar” because of the lack of legal definitions. However, when I am asked “what is craft chocolate?”, I say that it has been processed with a focus to produce a high quality chocolate, working with the fine flavours naturally present in the quality cocoa beans that have been ethically sourced (rather than buying poor quality cacao, roasting at a high temperature and adding a high level of sugar and /or milk powder and/or vanilla flavour or other flavours). I usually compare craft/bean-to-bar chocolate with wine, in that different origins will hold different flavours with many other factors influencing the final flavour of the bar (maker style, terroir variety, etc.). I also like to highlight that all of the hundreds of wonderful flavours that are found in wine/chocolate come from the grape/bean alone (unless flavoured or with inclusions including milk, of course). So it’s something to be savoured and explored than eaten for a sugar fix.Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: What is Craft Chocolate? Part 2”
Dormouse Chocolates is a craft chocolate maker located in Manchester, England. They also happen to be one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers. A big congrats to Dormouse for their recent UK Rising Star Award from the Academy of Chocolate Awards! Well done ladies!!!
1st up today is their Limited Edition 75% Dark Honduras bar. This bar was in one of Dormouse’s monthly chocolate bar subscription boxes. The origin of the beans is Copan Highlands, Honduras, and the bean type is Mayan Red. Conch time 48 hours.
Limited Edition 75% Dark Honduras Dormouse Chocolates Pic taken in Port Townsend, WA
Color: This bar is a medium/dark brown that also has a reddish/purple color in certain lights.
Nose: Black currant, jammy, new world red wine, coffee.
Texture: Good snap and very smooth.
Dormouse Chocolates 75% Dark Honduras Limited Edition Bar
Taste: Buttery to start, some tannins, dried cherries, Cabernet Franc grape taste and acidity, red fruit. and dark honey.
Finish: A very long finish around 25 – 30 minutes.
Dormouse Chocolates happens to be making a fantastic white chocolate bar called Toasted Madagascar White 38%. This bar keeps selling out so be sure to check their website often, or send them an email to see when it will be back in stock. The cocoa butter in this bar comes from criollo and trinitario beans from Madagascar Sambirano Valley and has a 28 hour conch time. The milk powder in this bar is toasted which makes this an extra tasty white chocolate bar.
Color: Toffee, golden color like caramel.
Nose: Caramel, condensed milk, nutty.
Dormouse Chocolates 38% Toasted Madagascar White (full size bar)
Texture: Very smooth.
Toasted Madagascar White (mini bar size)
Taste: Buttery, caramel, roasted macadamia nut, cream and light brown sugar.
Finish: A medium/long finish with some fruity notes.
This week I’m jumping across the pond once more so to speak, to interview Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates; the first bean-to-bar maker in Manchester, England. Dormouse makes micro-batches of craft chocolate that skip the machines for a rarely done hand-tempering of the chocolate on marble.
Dormouse was the very first monthly chocolate subscription I ever signed up for, and did I mention they just picked up three more Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017-including a gold for their Guatemala 51.5% milk chocolate bar? Congrats!
Dormouse chocolates is a bean to bar chocolate maker located in Manchester in the U.K. I recently ordered this bar from their online store. It’s listed as made from a mix of criollo, and trinitario beans, batch 076, and with a conch time of 48 hours. (The higher the quality the beans, the less conching time is needed, and it let’s the real flavors shine through too).