I am constantly blown away by the kindness and generosity of the people in my life. Case in point: Camille. She of the living-in-Paris, the magic-baking-fingers, the first-blogfriend-I-met-in-real-life, the just-started-an-amazing-new-job, the working-on-a-cookbook, and the took-time-out-from-all-of-these-things-to-search-out-and-send-me-exquisite-French-artisan-chocolate-all-while-getting-ready-to-travel-overseas-herself-so-much-kindness-my-friends-are-the-greatest.
That right there was my introduction to today’s chocolate review. In short: Camille is wonderful; you should read her blog; she sent me several chocolate bars from France; she makes my soul sing.
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse – République Dominicaine 75% Cacao
My heart started fluttering as soon as I saw the Serious Very Serious packaging for Alain Ducasse’s line of intense, single origin, cacao bean-focused bars. Camille, before I even start the review, thank you.
I eased myself into the Alain Ducasse experience with his 75% cacao dark chocolate made with beans from the Dominican Republic. The aroma was rich and deep, a tiny bit fruity with notes of cultured butter and cultured cream, a little bit tannic, like tea, but tea accompanied by shortbread. Yes. That’s it.
I took a bite of the glossy dark bar, and it was shy at first, this chocolate. Starting with whispers of butter and sour cream, the chocolate then moved into blackstrap molasses and charcoal, so much so that I’d have put the cacao percentage far higher than 75% if I’d been asked to guess.
This Alain Ducasse chocolate was extraordinarily layered and complex, with fruitiness and acidity ebbing alongside ash and burnt wood tones that, to me, were quite delicious. The sweetness was very subdued, yet the bar was never acrid or too bitter. The brightness of lemon and the richness of sour cream constantly kept things lively. I swear, at one point I even tasted key lime pie with a buttery shortbread crumb…
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse – Pérou 100% Cacao
Yes, just cacao beans.
And, yes, this dark chocolate was intense. Intense with a capital “I” for incredible. And incredibly intense. Even I, avowed lover of all things dark, couldn’t eat more than a few squares at a time of this one.
I’m not sure I’ve ever had chocolate with an aroma so unequivocally reminiscent of red wine before. Shiraz. Strong, tannic, spicy. I felt like I was ten years old again, sneaking whiffs of the cork recently pulled from my parents’ bottle of red as the sounds of their dinner party echoed in from the lounge room.
Each bite was smooth, fudgy yet firm to the tooth, with notes of smoke, bitter cacao, and red wine, red wine, red wine. Each time I nibbled, I was awed at the strength of the shiraz, or perhaps merlot, notes, and how they threaded through the bitter zinging charcoal layers of the cacao beans, the chocolate itself.
What a ride.
Thank you, Camille. Oh, for a ticket to Paris so that we could taste our next Alain Ducasse chocolates together…