Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chocolate Amatller: Chocolate Basket

A whole basket of good chocolate? Really? What graces of product placement made such a thing available to me? How wondrous it is.

At least, I hoped it would be. I've had some experience with Chocolate Amatller--not much, just enough to make a positive impression (which is a big deal, though, when you think about it). A box that is more like a deep tray holds two full sized chocolate bars, two small bars, and a little tin of chocolate leaves. Everything is plain, no distracting flavors. In fact, for being a basket (which is generally a festive, glitzy sort of collection), it's all very plain. Yet the plainness is exactly what made me consider this basket promising.

I reached first for the little tin. Maybe not everyone would do this, but it came naturally to me as my way of working up through everything. I imagined that the tin would have more casual chocolate as opposed to the bars. Previously, I've had another tin of chocolate leaves from Amatller, except that those were milk chocolate. That tin had the art nouveau picture that you can partially see on the small chocolate bars here. These small dark leaves are a completely different shape from the milk chocolate ones, with a little more detail, too, in the veins and all. The taste is of fudge, dark in that sweet/bitter, thick way that I'm not always too much of a fan of. But in this case it's better done, and they are pleasant little chocolates.

Next I started with one of the small bars, the 70% Cacao Origin Ecuador. It's just 0.63 oz. The bar looks rather plain after the pretty leaves but is nicely molded. Its flavor is much more floral than the leaves are. This chocolate has more of a delicate sweetness, perhaps with some citrus, too. Essentially it's just a balance of simple flavors, not at all bitter. Sweet in a gentle way that is simply another flavor element. I really like this one: it's lovely, gentle, and fragrant.

For the other small bar, the 70% Ghana 0.63, I'll have to pass: I didn't personally try any of it. So we'll just assume that one was good, too.

With the full-sized bars, we have the 85% version of the Ecuador. Inside the pretty card box (as opposed to the simpler wrappings of the small bars) is a matte black wrapper with tiny orange flowers, rather a nice change from plain wrappers. The bar is quite pretty, too: all the squares have little leaves and declare the Amatller name in a wacky yet elegant font. As the chocolate begins to melt, you get a slight hint of bitterness followed by a slightly dusty texture. While this texture is a little unnecessary, the flavor is good. It's a continuation of the softness of the 70%, just with more deepness and the addition of bitterness into the flavor profile. While definitely not as delicate as the 70%, neither is it very dark for an 85%. And once your mouth gets used to the slightly dusty texture, you do keep wanting to eat more and more. It leaves a warm, red, rich aftertaste that gives me that particular feeling of wanting more that chocolate hasn't given me for a while.

Moving into the 85% Ghana bar, we're definitely moving into darker territory. It's a little more bitter and slightly dusty from the start. The flavors are more of raisins--those dried, darker fruits with less of the sprightliness of the Ecuador bars. The warmth and sweetness increase as the chocolate melts. Then comes a creamy, rich, chocolate taste that's like a very fine dessert, rich and complex. Makes me very regretful I never tried the 70% version. Though it is a little more bitter in the first half than the 85% Ecuador was (which I must warn you about in case it might make a difference to you), this chocolate becomes so tender and wonderful in flavor that the bitterness ends up meaning nothing: the result is worth it. Another very good chocolate.

Basically, then, everything's pretty good. The leaves are definitely the most basic, as I had expected given their casual place in the tin. I'd recommend starting with the 70% bars to get a grasp of the flavors without too much seriousness, then moving in to the 85% bars to experience a little more depth. In fact, it was all so wonderful that I hesitate to mention that I used a good deal of this chocolate to make first a batch of brownies and later a flourless chocolate cake. Needless to say, they were both stunning. I just wish I saw Chocolate Amatller around more often.

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