Friday, November 5, 2010

Peruvian Chocolate - Baking Chips or Tasting Bars?

Sometimes I have too much leftover chocolate in the house that needs to be finished.  And since I am the only person in my household who likes bitter chocolate, I often have many half bars left around the house that need to be finished.  It’s strange to hand out half of a bar to friends and acquaintances, so I have to find a way to finish the bars myself (oh darn), while satisfying my need to taste something new on a regular basis, even if “new” just means comparing one previously tasted chocolate to one that I haven’t compared it to before.
So in order to use up some opened packages, today I am re-tasting the Cachet Limited Origin Selection Peru 64% bar that I tasted on Wednesday, and comparing it to another chocolate sourced from Peru: the Cuisine Camino semi-sweet baking chips.
I have a lot of the Cuisine Camino Baking chips on hand on a regular basis for the cake-making side of my business, and I have had the privilege of tasting them often.  However, I have not had a chance yet to compare it to other Peruvian chocolate. So this is new for me. 
I have always thought there was a very strong smell in the Cuisine Camino baking chips, and a very strong flavour too.  And although there is a hint of fruit bouquet in the baking chips, it definitely has a strong organic smell and taste.  (To clarify, when I say that something tastes or smells organic, I mean all of the following: earthy, woody, slightly smoky, the smell of soil and of stepping into a thick forest.)  
In addition to the strong “organic” flavour, the chocolate baking chips also have a flavour that I can only describe as "automobile", or exhaust fumes.  It’s not a bad flavour and aroma, it just seems to be mildly present.  So perhaps the processing plant is in a very industrial area, or the cocoa trees are next to a major autoroute?  I’ve done a little research and Cuisine Camino’s baking chocolate seems to come from Cacvra, a coffee and cacao bean co-op in the Apurimac Valley of Peru – a co-op of 3,700 family cocoa bean farmers. Based on the images online, it does not look like an industrial area, but with all the trucks coming and going for coffee and cacao beans, it’s possible the flavour has been affected.  However, I would recommend Cuisine Camino baking chips despite the mild flavour industrial, because they are tasty and I seem to be the only one I know who can taste that added flavour (I’ve asked carpet installers, plumbers, inlaws, friends and basically anyone who has been in my home recently to taste the Cuisine Camino Peruvian chocolate and they have all liked it and preferred it over the other choices I’ve given them!). Plus, Cuisine Camino uses no soy lecithin, no artificial flavours, and they are certified organic and fair trade.  The chips also hold their shape well when baking with them.
If you want to just snack on a bar of this stuff, you can now buy the Cuisine Camino Peruvian baking bar – the chocolate tastes the same to me and has the same aromas.  It comes in a 200 gram format and can be found at grocery and other stores across Canada and from some online retailers (check: to learn where you can buy it).
The funny thing is, the Cachet bar has that industrial paint smell mixed with fruitiness as well. So perhaps all Peruvian chocolate has a strong industrial smell to it overall?  Or, more likely, these beans are sourced from the same cacao co-operatives in Peru or processed in the same region. 
The Cachet bar has a higher cocoa solids % than the Cocoa Camino (64% versus 50%) so it’s a little difficult to make a flavour comparison because of the sugar content difference which can mask some of the flavours. There is definitely more bitterness, and fruitiness to the Cachet bar though. The best I can say is, if you are like me and can taste/smell a strong industrial flavour in both chocolates, then perhaps you’d prefer to try chocolate from a different origin country.  If you cannot taste that flavour, both chocolates are a great choice to support Fair Trade.
Here are the stats on both types of chocolate tasted today:
Organic Chocolate Chips by Camino by La-Siembra Co-Operative, Ottawa, ON
Ingredients:  Cane sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter,  vanilla extract. 50% minimum cocoa solids. May contain traces of dairy products and soy. Certified organic by QAI. Fair Trade Certified.
Cachet Limited Selection Peru, 100 gram bar, 64% cocoa solids
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla (nat. flavour). May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, soybeans, eggs, milk and gluten.
Company info and web site: Kim's Chocolates, no web site on package but I found this one:

No comments:

Post a Comment