Friday, August 10, 2018

FOSSA Chocolate, Silkiki Coconut Milk, and Zotter's Dry-Aged 75%: A Chocolate Tasting Round-Up

Summertime is super busy for me, making chocolate and chocolate desserts for the tourists that flock to Manitoulin Island during this season. And because of how much time I spend in my commercial kitchen, I am unable to tell you about all the amazing craft chocolate that I still taste on a weekly basis. But I thought I should etch out a little time this week to give you a round-up before I let these interesting chocolate finds pass into the zone of "um...I think I tasted that once."

So here is what I've been tasting so far this summer...


Solkiki Gran Nativo Coconut Dark Milk 63%, 56g





This was my first time tasting a Solkiki chocolate bar, and I was not disappointed, the coconut flavour was surprisingly subtle (I've tasted many coconut milk bars where the coconut milk flavour was too strong and, well, gross. This was not one of those bars, this was delicious).  The milk chocolate texture was smooth and slightly creamy - not overly creamy, but enough to be quite pleasant. The milk chocolate taste was refreshing and bright, and the bar notes referred to "notes of pina colada". The hint of coconut might contribute to that. Also, the 63% cocoa solids do not make this bar bitter at all, it is still clearly 'milky' in taste, and sweet tasting for a high percentage dark-milk chocolate.

So if you are looking to taste a coconut milk chocolate - or any vegan milk chocolate with no dairy - but are afraid of strong coconut flavours, go ahead and try this one, because it is quite good. And the International Chocolate Awards judges agree, because Solkiki won a 2017 Silver award for this bar.

Solkiki is a British chocolate maker specializing in vegan chocolate. Check this bar out on their website, or buy it online on CocoaRunners: https://cocoarunners.com/shop/solkiki-gran-nativo-63-coconut-dark-mylk/



FOSSA 70% Dark PAK EDDY, Indonesia, 35 g




FOSSA Chocolate, Singapore's first bean-to-bar chocolate maker, seem to be turning up everywhere on Instagram lately, so I was excited to try this bar and enjoy a first taste experience with this chocolate maker. This Indonesian-origin chocolate bar offered a smoky taste with a good, dark chocolate flavour. The flavour was complex and very interesting, with almond, and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The quality was also good, and no noticeable strange textures. According to the chocolate package, 'PAK EDDY' as the bar is named, stands for 'Uncle Eddy', which is the local term used for the farmer who "personally cultivated, fermented and dried" the beans in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

FOSSA is getting noticed for their interesting flavour combinations, like Salted Egg Cereal (including salted egg yolk, cereal and curry leaves), White Sesame & Seaweed, Sake, and the one that seems to get the most notice: Shrimp & Bonito.

So I definitely look forward to my next FOSSA taste experience. Check them out on Instagram @fossachocolate and online at: https://www.fossachocolate.com/.





Zotter Labooko Vintage 2016 Dry Aged 75%, 70g


Even after reviewing the information provided by Zotter, I am still not sure I understand the "Dry Aged" claim, since both cocoa beans and chocolate need to be dry to age. Their packaging states that the "vintage chocolate" was "dry aged for a year in order to mature the cocoa aroma." However, the website says" a superior cuvée made of dry-aged fine flavour cocoa". So the packaging makes it sound like the chocolate was dry aged, and the website makes it sound like the cocoa beans were dry aged.

Now, if the beans were dry-aged, (which I am going to assume is the case, because chocolate can't really be wet to age unless a chocolate maker wanted to spend some serious money on electricity to keep it in a constant melted state), then I suppose that is different than larger chocolate makers who might use their beans as soon as they get them in. However, many smaller craft chocolate makers use their supply over time (i.e. order beans once per year), or order from a supplier that stores the beans in a warehouse for as long as a year, so I suppose many chocolate makers are dry-aging the chocolate but not labelling it a such, and rather just placing different batch numbers on the chocolate.

This aging process will cause a taste difference from batch to batch, but how much difference is hard to say. I have bars of my own made from aged cocoa beans, and they do taste different from the bars that I saved that were made from beans of the same harvest, but made closer to the harvest date. It is hard to say how much the flavor is influenced by the length of aging of the bars themselves, and how much is influenced by the age of the beans, or a change in cocoa butter, roast profile, etc.

Either way, and no matter how they spin it, this chocolate is truly tasty. It is rich in chocolate flavour, a complex flavour that comes from a blend of five fine flavour cocoa bean varieties grown in four different cocoa-growing countries. It hits different markers of flavour: fruit, nut, cocoa taste, caramel, and a pronounced-yet-balanced acidity that creates a perfect bitterness level for dark chocolate.

I truly enjoyed this chocolate bar. I recommend you give it a try. This year, they plan to release a 2017 Vintage edition, so watch out for that. Learn more on the European Zotter website at: https://www.zotter.at/en/online-shop/brands/labooko/detail/product/75-vintage-2016-dry-aged.html. If you are in the US, you can order online here. or got to: https://www.zotterusa.com/.


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And that's a 'round-up' for this week folks! I am hoping to find a little time next week to post a recipe or two that I've been working on this summer, so stay tuned...
 

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