It’s been a little while since I’ve reviewed a chocolate bar that is all about the… well, chocolate. In recent days we’ve looked at chocolate with caramelised nuts and seeds, with faux-cherry pieces, with hemp, and with Bailey’s Irish Cream (click on “chocolate” in the categories drop-down menu, on the right, to find out more). While such ingredient additions can be fun, sometimes a girl/person/eater simply wants to revel in the complexities and shifting depths (hopefully) found in unadorned dark chocolate.
And sometimes the writing up of such revelling occurs two months after the revelling took place… but maybe you’ll forgive me the delay?
TCHO offers four different dark chocolates, which are differentiated primarily according to their flavour profiles. The chocolates are called “Fruity”, “Citrus”, “Nutty”, and “Chocolatey”, and have different cacao percentages and origins to boot. I quite like the idea of naming chocolate for its distinct taste, as this could help people new to the world of high-quality chocolate to develop their own flavour preferences. As much as I hate to admit it, not everyone wakes up one morning knowing that, for example, cacao from Madagascar is fruitier than its earthier cousins from Ghana.
Back to the chocolate itself, though, I was pleased to find a good deal of attention-to-detail in the chocolate’s embossing. It’s quite pretty, really, although it does remind me a little uncomfortably of geometry and maths.
Although I would have loved to try all four of TCHO’s chocolates, and to thereby ascertain whether I agreed with their advertised flavours, the only two I found were the “Nutty” and “Chocolatey” bars. This certainly wasn’t the worst thing in the world, as I’ve discovered that citrus flavours are my least favourite in the world of chocolate.
Today, I’m talking about Mr. Nutty. Made from cacao from Peru and with a cacao content of 65%, the first thing I noted in the aroma was how chocolatey it was. In fact, I even checked that I hadn’t accidentally unwrapped the “Chocolatey” chocolate. After assuring myself that, yes, this was the Nutty chocolate, I then concentrated on the burnt caramel, dark golden syrup, and bitter muscovado sugar components of the aroma.
It was an enticing smell, and as soon as I tasted a square I was overwhelmed by thoughts of golden syrup on slightly-overdone pancakes (even though I can’t remember ever having put golden syrup on my pancakes).
It got a bit strange after that, though, because I couldn’t separate this pancake flavour from the cast-iron skillet they were (in my imagination) cooked on. Sometimes, the taste flipped back to burnt sugar and a more delicious taste, but increasingly my experience of the chocolate tended towards metal, detergent, and always cast iron. Cast iron appears countless times in my tasting notes, and before long I started to be a bit put off by the taste of it.
I was very surprised by the strength and unusualness of the flavour of this chocolate, and must say that nuttiness was not something that ever came to the fore. I actually had to leave half of this to eat at another time and, when I did return, my experience was indeed slightly different…
The second time around, I couldn’t stop thinking that the chocolate tasted like cardboard and wood lacquer. Maths and woodwork? Why couldn’t this chocolate remind me of my favourite classes from Year 9, like English and Cooking?
I was, and remain, quite unsure as to what to make of this chocolate. Was it deliciously unusual, or unpleasant? Did I get a bad batch that had been stored incorrectly and had somehow soaked up unwanted flavours? Or is cardboard and iron the new “in thing” in the world of chocolate?
All I knew for sure, upon finishing this, was that I couldn’t wait to find out what Mr. Chocolatey had in store.