I have a soft spot for Michel Cluizel. It was this chocolatier’s 1ers Crus de Plantation (Single Plantation) line that first opened my mind to how nuanced and diverse chocolate can be, depending on such factors as the origin of the cacao, the year of harvest, and whether or not the bar uses soy lecithin and/or vanilla. Do these positive feelings mean I’ll be biased when reviewing all Michel Cluizel chocolate? I’d like to think not. After all, I love Chuao’s Spicy Maya and Chinita chocolates, yet still vehementally critiqued its crackly fizzing Firecracker chocolate of doom.
Michel Cluizel Noir au Praliné à l’Ancienne
Honestly, if there were any bias affecting my opinion of this chocolate, it’d be a negative one. You see, the first time I tried this was also the night I got food poisoning in New York (and the less said about that, the better). Yet as I’m incredibly dedicated to everyone reading this blog out there in the magical mystery world of The Interwebs, I bravely prepared myself to once more put my well-being on the line by nibbling this chocolate creation. I know, I know. The sacrifices I make for you lot…
As an Australian, I’ve grown up associating the word “praline” with the soft and mousse-like hazelnut filling found in such chocolates as Guylian Seashells. However, the praliné found in this Michel Cluizel chocolate is a far different beast. More to the point, it’s a far tastier beast.
You might remember that I once took you on a tour of the Louvre and waxed lyrical over Camille’s praliné truffles. In both Camille’s and Michel Cluizel’s case, praliné refers to a powder made of pulverised caramelised nuts. Shall I give you Babelfish’s translation of the French description of the Noir au Praliné à l’Ancienne? I think I shall.
In large cauldrons out of red copper heated with naked fire, the whole almonds and hazel nuts were cooked in heart in caramelized cane sugar. Crushed then under grinding stones out of granite, this praline-flavoured ice cream with l’ancienne Marie with relish with the black chocolate.
Dear me, I’ve talked rather a lot without describing the chocolate, haven’t I? This is what happens when I type a post whilst watching Masterchef (and being utterly dissatisfied with the outcome. Why oh why must Joanna keep surviving eliminations? She’s like a cockroach).
Right. The chocolate. Two words: loved it. The 60% dark chocolate surrounding the praliné is sweet and rich, with much-appreciated-by-me notes of coffee and molasses. As you can see in the photo above, the praliné is sandy in texture and colour. What you can’t see is the strong flavour hit of caramelised sugar and roasted nuts that it contributes to the bar.
I wouldn’t describe the praliné as distinctly hazelnut or almond-like in flavour; in fact, it tasted more like powdered sesame snaps and halvah. The overall taste of this bar is of sweet, dark and silky chocolate combined with buttery nuts and wisps of toffee and honey.
Definitely worth risking food poisoning for. Particularly as I know, in my heart of hearts, that it was the tofu and edamame dinner that caused the trials and tribulations that night.
Chocolate would never be so cruel.