Monday, March 14, 2016

Soul Chocolate: It's All About the Roast

Soul Chocolate is one of Canada's newest bean-to-bar chocolate makers, having started up in the Toronto area in 2015. From Soul's social media accounts, we can see that the chocolate makers, Katie and Kyle, are beautiful and young, and give off a vibe of 70's-style hippy. They seem ultra cool, which shows up in their funky artistic packaging, and new-wave chocolate bar sizes that fit perfectly into  'natural' looking tasting boxes. I was a fan before I even tasted their chocolate.

Like most start-up bean to bar chocolate makers, Katie and Kyle offer just a few select chocolate bars.  They are sourcing beans from: Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Venezuela. With Madagascar known for its citrus and fruity notes, Papua New Guinea for its smoky and fruit taste, and Venezuela for its straight-up chocolate flavour, this line-up is ideal for any chocolate origin tasting.

Upon tasting all three, I can sum up this chocolate maker's selection as a "dark roast" style of chocolate (see below for tasting notes). The heavy roast on the cocoa beans is at the forefront of each chocolate bar, setting the tone for the taste.  If you read my series on Fresco Chocolate, and how the roast level affects the flavour, you'll understand that the roast is an important consideration when making chocolate. And although a darker roast may mask some of the citrus and berry flavours in the Madagascar chocolate, I don't mind the dark roast taste at all.

The website and packaging show that Katie and Kyle appreciate the cocoa bean roasting process; in fact the website URL is soulroasters.com, and it describes their dream of "owning a beautiful barn in the country-side where they can roast cacao". Moreover, the shipping box that holds Soul's tasting bars clearly states "Roasted with love in Ontario, Canada". So before tasting the chocolate, I knew roast was important to these chocolate makers.

If you haven't heard about or had the chance to try Soul Chocolate yet, I recommend you check their website. The chocolate is now online, available in six-pack tasting sets for $30. I am looking forward to seeing how this small business progresses in the world of bean to bar chocolate. This month, we can help them progress by voting for Soul Chocolate to win grant money to expand, see here for more details.

My Soul Chocolate Tasting Notes:

Overall, the chocolate texture is smooth with only a hint of rustic edge. There is very low acidity in each chocolate bar, and a strong roast flavour.  The line-up of single origin tasting bars was well chosen by Soul - it highlights the differences in flavour between cocoa growing regions.

Soul's Madagascar 70% dark chocolate: a little less fruity than I am used to with Madagascar, although there is some citrus flavour, the strong roast flavour is the more noticeable taste.  And although mild, there is just enough berry flavour to make me think of a forkful of dense chocolate fudge cake with a thin coating of raspberry puree on top. Batch: 1217, 1 oz/28g, ingredients: cacao (77%), cane sugar (23%).

Soul's Papua New Guinea 77% dark chocolate: At first there is a fruit taste, then roast flavour takes over, and then the flavours fade off to a distinct smoke flavour. It might be fruitier than Soul's Madagascar chocolate. This chocolate is quite bold flavoured, and a little acidic (in a good way), but may benefit from a longer conche. However, I quite enjoyed the unique taste. Batch: 1217, 1 oz/28g, ingredients: cacao (70%), cane sugar (30%).

Soul's Venezuela 75% dark chocolate: Again a roast is the predominant flavour, which melts away to a chocolate pudding* or dark chocolate gelato taste*. Soul's tasting notes on the package mention hazelnut, which I tasted only slightly (and I may have been influenced by reading the tasting notes on this one). I also found it sweet and bright in a milk way.  Batch: 1217, 1 oz/28g, ingredients: cacao (75%), cane sugar (25%).

*The combination of corn starch and cocoa powder are what make a distinct pudding, commercial ice cream, or even dark chocolate gelato taste, which is why this is different than simply a 'chocolate' taste. Make and compare this no-corn starch chocolate ice cream recipe and this gelato recipe to understand the taste differences (if you don't have an ice cream maker, pour into cups and let set for several hours to make pudding, or drink them like hot chocolate, or you can make popsicles out of them!).

Overall impression and taste of Soul Chocolate: Uber cool chocolate with a great taste. Looking forward to seeing what might yet come from these chocolate makers.

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