At the Paris Las Vegas hotel, you can now find Hexx, the very first craft, bean-to-bar chocolate maker to open in Las Vegas. Their slogan is 'Super. Natural.' which I think is fantastic because not only does the packaging have a super natural look to it, but also the ingredients are super natural. In fact, Hexx only uses two ingredients in the chocolate: cacao and organic coconut palm sugar.
Hexx's mission is to showcase the flavorful varietals of cocoa beans (cacao) grown in different regions. So currently Hexx makes single origin chocolate with beans grown from five regions: Peru, Tanzania, Venezuela, Ecuador and Madagascar.
I got my hands on all five bars, thanks to a relative who just visited Vegas. And every day for this past week, I have had the pleasure of tasting Hexx's chocolate bars. What I learned is that Hexx's 'natural' mission can also be seen in the texture of the chocolate. It is nearly smooth, but still has a very slight crunch to it (like that of stone-ground chocolate, although way smoother than stone-grown chocolate). I personally love chocolate with a slight crunch because it tells me that it is not overly-processed.
The taste was unique. Organic coconut palm sugar always adds a flavour to the chocolate that is not in chocolate made with cane sugar. But that flavour is mild and easy to forget as you delve in to taste and compare Hexx's origin bars (see below for specific tasting notes).
The business has put a lot of effort into doing it right; they have travelled to cocoa growing regions to source beans, they have covered a full range of regions to highlight bold origin flavours, and they have developed the right materials to assist people who are new to tasting origin chocolate.
I am looking forward to seeing how Hexx progresses as they settle in for the long haul. A visit to their location and tasting counter is definitely on my to-do list. I've been told that it is a nice experience.
So if you are heading to Vegas, check out Hexx and learn about bean-to-bar chocolate! You can also find Hexx's products in a second location at the MGM Grand. See their website for more information: www.hexxchocolate.com.
Detailed Hexx Chocolate Bar Tasting Notes:
Tanzania (Kokoa Kamili) - bright and fruity (citrus and red berry) with a nice balance of chocolaty and fruity flavours.
Venezuela (Ocumare) - some acidity and fruitiness (not citrus fruits).
Peru (Maranon Pure Nacional) - very dry with a slow melt, floral notes and a wee bit flat. The palm sugar stands out in this one.
Madagascar (Sambirano Valley) - crunchiest (although nearly smooth) but so full of fruit flavours it overwhelms the taste of palm sugar (unlike the others, except Tanzania). It is the most bitter in terms of cocoa content, but hardly seems that way because of the bold citrus fruit flavours. Uniquely it also has the lightest colour.
Ecuador (Camino Verde) - Nutty, chocolaty and, at first, seemed a bit flat in comparison to the bolder Madagascar and Tanzania bars.
At first, I liked the Ecuador the least, but I realized that it was because the taste of the coconut palm sugar was stronger than the taste of the origin flavours, which can sometimes flatten the natural origin flavours in the chocolate. Whereas with the Madagascar chocolate by Hexx, the origin flavours were so bold that the palm sugar flavour was overwhelmed by them. I think that is why I was naturally drawn to the Madagascar bar.
I conducted a little taste comparison between the Lindt Ecuador bar and Hexx's Ecuador bar. I had thought I liked Lindt's bar, until I tasted these two together. What happened was that I was turned off by the strong added 'natural flavors' (representing a vanilla flavor) that Lindt had added to the bar. It caused me to appreciate and enjoy Hexx's Ecuador bar with its simple ingredients.
The Madagascar chocolate bar was my favourite and certainly a great example of the bold citrus flavours often found in chocolate made from cacao grown in the Sambirano Valley. It was, however, the grittiest of the five Hexx bars. But that was my favourite part.
The Tanzania had the nicest overall balance of unique citrus and red fruit flavours, which were clearly detectable but not overwhelming.