Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tastes of California-Made Chocolate: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate

If there are 'giants' in the craft chocolate world, Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate is certainly among them. And it has less to do with their fantastic packaging and more to do with taste. Dick Taylor consistently delivers on taste and flavour design.

During a 'blind' tasting led by Chloe Doutre-Rousell at the Chocolate Maker's Unconference, we experienced tasters immediately knew from the beautiful design on our tiny pieces of chocolate, as well as the powerful, wonderful fruity flavour punch, that Dick Taylor's Madagascar bar was among the line-up of chocolates. The gorgeous mould may have given it away, but the wonderful flavour confirmed it.

My first taste of the Northerner Blend, a DT chocolate bar that I've heard a lot about over the last year, was a few weeks back. I opened my stash from the NW Chocolate Fest and found the Dick Taylor bars that I had forgotten were among my purchases. I've been peeking into the virtual window of Dick Taylor's shop (ahem, that pretty much means stalking the business on Instagram) and seeing this 'Northerner Blend' chocolate. As a customer from 'Northern Ontario' who considers herself a Northerner, I have trouble imagining such a name could be applied to anything in sunny California. But regardless, the name spoke to me, and I had to taste this bar.

In craft chocolate terms, a blend is a bar that has been made of carefully chosen beans from different growing regions. Blending is a chocolate maker's art, and perhaps an expression of their ideal flavour composition. In the case of the Northerner Blend, it immediately reminded me of the Madagascar chocolate bar by Dick Taylor. Full of fruit flavours, potent, and a real punch of flavour. The blend was no different. It had all those flavour components of the Madagascar cacao, and some fruit from the Brazilian cacao that the Madagascar was blended with. The chocolate makers noted honey and dried apricot as tasting notes, but the flavour elements seemed much richer than those two things. Perhaps a rich, dark honey, and there were definitely some acidic fruity notes. It is a bold chocolate that makes a statement. And it quite addictive.

At the Festival, I also picked up Dick Taylor's other relatively new release: their Brown Butter, Nibs & Sea Salt chocolate bar. I quickly learned that this chocolate delivers a powerful punch of flavour upon first bite. Made using the 73% Northerner Blend, this fruity chocolate offers a potent flavour kick, with some upfront acidity that makes way to creamy, buttery notes and texture. The crunchy nibs and salt leave an after taste of pure cacao that lingers, and bursts of salt that quickly melts away.

The Brown Butter chocolate bar is easy to eat quickly, thinking that with each bite you'll figure out its complexity, and be able to describe its flavour with a simple word or phrase. Soon enough, the bar is gone and you are left wanting another so you can fully understand it. Perhaps that can never happen, even if you eat 100 of them. But you'll enjoy every single one.

With nibs in every bite, this bar I complex - is it buttery or crunchy?
Tart or sweet? Fruity or just plain cocoa-y? 
And look at the beauty of that chocolate mould pattern!

In a later post, I will tell you more about the Dick Taylor's limited edition Solomon Islands chocolate bar: a special release bar that changes each year, depending upon a contest held among cacao farmers of the Solomon Islands. The best cacao is chosen by chocolate makers like Dick Taylor and Madre, and a few others. I picked one some at the 2016 NW Festival, and in 2017 I bought Dick Taylor's, along with a Madre's and Zokoko's. What a treat to experience how different chocolate makers approach cacao from the same region, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks.

For now, here is more information on the bars that I wrote about today:

Brown Butter with Nib & Sea Salt in a 73% Northerner Blend
Maker: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, Eureka, California
Ingredients: Cacao*, cane sugar*, butter*, fleur de sel (Cacao solids: 73% minimum). *Organic. Contains dairy. May contain traces of nuts.

Northerner Blend, 73% Dark Chocolate
"A balanced blend of Madagascan and Brazilian Cacao."
Maker: Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, Eureka, California
Ingredients: Cacao*, cane sugar* (cocoa solids 73% minimum). *Organic. May contain nuts and milk.


  1. Thank you for the great blog. I am a huge dark chocolate fan & have never seen Dick Taylor chocolate before. Excited to track some down. Best wishes, Charis Boissevain

  2. Agree with you that Dick Taylor is one of the best artisan craft chocolate makers now. Every single bar that they produce is unbelievable. You are never disappointed.

  3. wow.... dark chocolate...

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