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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
DAR Chocolate: Bean to Bar Chocolate in Denver, Colorado
They now use the skills they learned in Costa Rica to make chocolate from bean-to-bar in Denver, Colorado. They focus on crafting single-origin chocolate, with a line-up of bars made from cocoa beans grown in different countries, including Costa Rica.
The chocolate bar that I tasted last week was a 72% dark chocolate made from 'Camino Verde' Ecuadorian beans. It is sweetened with coconut sugar. So it has a slightly bitter taste, as is the case with many chocolates made with coconut sugar. And it has hints of nuts, some walnut and pecan, a slight black liquorice taste, and to me, an upfront taste of baked coconut. The chocolate has a nice smooth texture and thin shape, ideal for a refined chocolate tasting.
Gila and Joel chose coconut sugar for a variety of reasons, but nostalgia is a big part of that choice. When they lived in Costa Rica, a friend of theirs was extracting coconut oil in his backyard, with an open fire. That memory is brought on by the smoky notes of coconut sugar in their dark chocolate.
They are also using coconut sugar as an alternative sugar, with a lower glycemic index to cane sugar, to make their chocolate healthier. Many chocolate makers are using coconut sugar these days as a way of reducing the blood sugar spike we experience from cane sugar. It does change the chocolate flavour in some ways, often with the effect that brown sugar would have when replacing white cane sugar - slightly more bitter in taste. It also often leaves behind a coconut flavour in chocolate. As people switch, many are becoming used to this taste. Others using coconut sugar include Hexx Chocolate of Las Vegas and the Chocolate Alchemist.
DAR also offers a 90% dark Ecuador bar, as well as other origins in the 70% range, such as a 76% Costa Rica, 72% Vietnam and 72% Venezuela. A blend bar is also available, as well chocolate with inclusions. Buy these in a handful of local Denver stores or online at: http://www.darchocolate.com/shop.