Ontario is the newest hotspot for bean-to-bar chocolate start-ups. I recently told you about Toronto-based Soul Chocolate. Later this week I will tell you about another from Uxbridge and next month, I will be announcing the launch of another newbie chocolate maker elsewhere in Ontario. But today, let's take a look at Marigold's Finest, a new stoneground chocolate maker that just opened last Fall in Toronto.
Although most craft chocolate is ground by stone rollers, products labelled as 'stoneground chocolate' are generally known to be lightly gritty, reminding us tasters of where chocolate comes from: the cacao bean. Beany and sugar bits can remain in the chocolate and add a nice crunch, and the texture can often become addictive once you get used to it (I've gone through spells where I only crave stoneground-style chocolate, rather than the smooth stuff).
Stoneground chocolate also holds more acidic flavours, because the refining process is shorter than for smooth chocolate. The acidity in the beans is not released through days and days of heat and agitation, which is what happens during the conching process that is applied to the smooth, mild-flavoured chocolate from the grocery store.
Marigold's Finest makes a stoneground chocolate that is nearly smooth, with just a light grit to it. The chocolate maker uses quality cacao grown in different regions of the world, to highlight the unique flavour characteristics of the cocoa bean and its country of origin. I tried a pack of chocolate bars from the chocolate maker's website, which turned out to be a lovely taste discovery. The range of single origin chocolate bars included Trinidad, Costa Rica, and a new one, Nicaragua. There was also a very good Dark-Milk chocolate with 60% cocoa solids, and a unique dark chocolate called Champagne and Strawberries. You can find tasting notes on some of the chocolate bars below.
Marigold's Finest has a storefront, located at 1296 Gerard St. in the East end of Toronto, and is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can't visit the shop, don't worry, you can buy online with shipping rates of only $10 across Canada or free on orders over $50.
Tasting Notes on Marigold's Finest Chocolate:
These tasting notes are from just a few of the chocolate bars offered by Marigold's Finest. For a detailed and current list of all products, click here.
Chocolate Made with Cacao from Nicaragua:
This one is smoother than the rest. I could taste a dark roasted cocoa bean flavour, as well as coffee and nuts (like walnuts and roasted pecans), which made it quite good. I also found a light aftertaste of something like black olives. I thoroughly enjoyed this chocolate bar.
Bright and lightly acidic. To me, it holds the flavours of mandarin, dried apricot, toasted grains, nuts and roast. Very interesting origin.
Rustic, more so than the others. Bright flavoured and sweet for a 60% dark milk, and my experience with stone ground chocolate shows that the sugar stands out a little more when the chocolate is not ultra smooth. Maybe a bit fruity, with a slight sour cream taste.
Tastes similar to the homemade milk chocolate that I've made with home refining equipment (so of course, I really like it).
Champagne and Strawberries:
There is no Champagne in the product, but the effect is achieved with popping candy. Also, freeze-dried strawberries are sprinkled on the back. I thought this might have been a milk chocolate, but in fact, it is 72% dark chocolate. The popping candy is lightly sprinkled on the back, so if you want the full effect, you must put the side with the sprinkled candy on it tongue-side down. It would be nice if there was more popping candy inside the bar of chocolate to ensure every piece 'popped', but it is a fun combination nonetheless.
I am looking forward to tasting new creations by Marigold's Finest as they pop up, like the new Coffee & Cream bar announced on social media earlier this month.
Want to learn more about Ontario-based and Canadian bean-to-bar chocolate makers? View the entire list of them here.