Friday, August 26, 2016

Willie's Cacao: Not One, but TWO Tastings of these Venezeulan and Columbian Origin Chocolate Bars

I find it difficult to review a chocolate makers' chocolate, after tasting just a few of their chocolate bars. So when I scarfed down two of Willie's Cacao chocolate bars earlier this year, and realized I hadn't put the thought or time into really tasting it, so I waited to purchase more before writing about it here. And purchase more, I did.

Since Willie's Cacao is a British craft chocolate brand, I unfortunately have limited access to the chocolate here in Canada (well, that is if I want to order from within Canada and not pay shipping fees direct from England). So I ordered what I could, which was just two bars: Willie's Columbian Gold Los Llanos 88% and Willie's Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72%.  This tasting mix was just fine with me, since craft chocolate made from Venezuela-origin beans has been fairly predictable and nearly always good. And Columbian-origin chocolate still mystifies me, so there is always a learning opportunity when comparing a Venezuelan-origin chocolate to anything new. That Venezuelan straight-up chocolate flavour, with a hint of nuts or coffee, provides a good base comparison for another origin with a spicier, fruitier or something-ier flavour to it.  And in this case, it was no different.

After tasting both chocolate bars - twice - I can say I enjoy Willie's Cacao chocolates. They are not exceptionally high in cocoa butter - perhaps a little on the 'stiff' side, but they are not entirely without the melt of cocoa butter either, so the mouthfeel still holds some creaminess.

One of the major 'plus's' of Willie's Cacao is minimal ingredients - just three in fact - which means no soy lecithin, no artificial flavours and no other 'junk' or even natural vanilla getting in the way of the origin flavours. This 'three-ingredient' chocolate is quite nice, and seems to bring out maximum flavour from the cocoa beans.

My only real note of caution is to bring a knife to your tasting of Willie's.  The solid, square shape of the chocolate bar is lovely to look at, but it does sometimes require a knife and chopping board to cut the pieces. I tried breaking off small pieces with my hands and could only succeed in breaking large pieces, nearly half the bar.

For Willie's Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72% chocolate bar, there is an upfront dark roast flavour. I often taste the roast flavour in Venezuelan-origin chocolate, I think because there is generally low acidity and mild other flavours in many Venezuelan beans, so the roast tends to stand out.  But that is not the case here, I believe there was a dark roast applied to the beans used to make this chocolate. This highlights the notes of coffee (dark roast, of course) and roasted nuts in the chocolate. It is a nice chocolate that keeps me coming back for more.

As for Willie's Columbian Gold, Los Llanos 88% chocolate bar, it seems like a mystery to me. The first time I tasted it, I detected cherry and plum, as written on the package, with a little citrus and acidity is there in this very dark and very bitter chocolate. And yet, my second tasting produced a chocolate with no strong fruit flavours and it seemed to have low bitterness and low acidity. My third tasting produced the cherry flavours again, but mild and still not-so-bitter. Funny how that happens.

The Columbian chocolate is harsher to the bite than the Venezuelan, but that is expected with a chocolate with higher cocoa solids. Overall both chocolate bars are enjoyable.

Here are the package details on these two chocolate bars:

Willie's Cacao, Venezuelan Gold Rio Caribe 72, 50g
Willie's Cacao Ltd. (Uffculme, UK)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. May contain traces of nuts. 72% minimum cocoa solids.

Willie's Cacao, Columbian Gold Los Llanos 88, 50g
Willie's Cacao Ltd. (Uffculme, UK)
Ingredients: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter. May contain traces of nuts. 72% minimum cocoa solids.


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