Tuesday, August 28, 2018

RAAKA Virgin Chocolate's 1st Nibs Subscription: Double Fermented versus Single Fermented Cacao

If you love to discover new ways to enjoy chocolate, love to learn about chocolate making though sensory analysis, and to compare how chocolate flavours are affected by changes to cacao processing, then I suggest you try Raaka Virgin Chocolate`s 1t Nibs Subscription, August 2018 selection. There are just a few days left in August, so be quick and get to Raaka`s website! You can buy the box here: https://www.raakachocolate.com/collections/first-nibs-monthly-chocolate-subscription .

It comes with ice packs, in an insulated envelope, with the chocolate bars wrapped in a lovely drawstring bag. This would make a wonderful gift for a wannabe chocolate connoisseur, or a wine tasting enthusiast (who talks about 'terrior' and 'flavour notes' and also likes chocolate.

So why is this subscription box so great for me? Well, I loved the learning and discovery aspect to this curated selection of bars. Raaka has taken one of their cacaos (Zorzal Cacao from the Dominican Republic) and conducted an experiment: they made one 75% dark chocolate bar from the cacao. Then they did a "carefully controlled secondary natural fermentation" of a portion of same batch of cacao. Raaka then made one batch of chocolate bars from the single fermented cacao (cacao that is fermented in the Dominican Republic), then made a second batch of chocolate from the cacao that was fermented a second time in Raaka's factory in Brooklyn, New York. They say that the secondary fermentation reduces the sugars in the cacao while "leveling up the maltiness and more pronounced chocolaty notes".  Raaka also threw in a third Guatemala-origin chocolate bar made with cacao from the 2017 Harvest of 40 small farms in San Juan Chivite, a small village in Guatemala that is only accessible by a wooden suspension bridge. Together, these three bars made for a perfect taste comparison package.

So what were the results in taste?
Single Fermented Cacao, 75% Zorzal Cacao Dominican Republic
My day 1 of tasting offered tart lemony notes, and tart un-ripened cherry, yet day 2 produced mild dried fruit, perhaps dried apricot and raw almond. For some reason the texture had a slight grit,  but there had been a little bloom on this bar in comparison to the other two in the package. I hadn't taken note of its position within the package, but being up on an Island in Northern Ontario, it had likely taken a little longer for the package to reach me, and the ice pack was no longer cold inside the package. I also jogged home with the package, when I should have driven it home to prevent further risk of bloom on the bars. But somehow, I get the feeling the textural aspect to this chocolate is not from the slight bloom, because the slight grit seems to linger on the melt.  Overall, it falls flat in comparison to the double fermented cacao bar.

Double Fermented Cacao, 75% Zorzal Cacao Dominican Republic
This chocolate was very different than the first: robust, well-rounded favour, a good level of acidity, and pronounced fruit. Still some lemony flavour on the melt (like watered-down lemonade), but with a lemon tang that lingers long after the flavour is gone. I agree with the tasting notes provided by Nate Hodge, Head Chocolate Maker, that the bar has notes of rich chocolate fudge. A note was provided on the package of this being a "more mellow bar", which doesn't sit quite right with me, since this chocolate seems to have a much fuller, richer flavour.

If Raaka is considering choosing one chocolate over the other, definitely the Double Fermented Cacao is the best choice for a unique, beautiful flavour.

Guatemala (Asochivite, 2017 Harvest, 75%)
On the first day of tasting, this chocolate was so fruity, full of prune and raisin, in fact it reminded me of raisins soaked in rum. This was very enjoyable.

So again, if you want to get in on this subscription box, there are just days left to buy it! Go to https://www.raakachocolate.com/collections/first-nibs-monthly-chocolate-subscription to learn more, and www.raakachocolate.com to see what else this awesome low-roast chocolate maker has to offer.

Bloggers Note:
I purchased this box with my own money, and no encouragement or incentive from Raaka. Just me trying something new (like I always do), trying to learn more about chocolate from a maker that I have always respected.


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