This week I had a chance to sample two bars of Amano chocolate. I may have a new favorite.
The two bars I tried were Ocumare and Madagascar, both of which are a dark 70% cacao bar. My favorite! The Madagascar bar was heaven. It had that tart/dark flavor that is often described as “fruity” in the chocolate tasting world. I liked the way the flavor starts out slowly and builds as it dissolves in your mouth. Its almost like the tartness is in the center. Which made me wonder if there is a migration of compounds to different regions in a chocolate bar as it cool and the cocoa butter recrystalizes, kind of like you see in other compounded solids. Hmmmm.
Anyway, this bar was marvelous. If this bar were available locally, I would probably be buying it regularly on each trip to the store. For people who do not normally like dark chocolate, this is a good bar to try as it has a very unique flavor that those milk chocolate hounds might like. No, I did not eat the entire thing because I was trying to minimize my deviation from the Lent diet (Pam may smack me now), but come Easter? Its gone. And NO I am not sharing it with people from work no matter how much they beg. They get to sniff the empty wrapper.
The Ocumare was completely different from the Madagascar. This is a beautiful example to demonstrate how the bean makes the flavor of the chocolate bar. These two bars are made in the same facility, same cocoa content, TOTALLY different flavors. The Ocumare is made from Venezuelan Criollo beans, compared with the Madagascar bar made from…well…Madagascar beans (Criollo? Trinitario?), which originated from Venezuela. Its a neat experiment to show people who think all chocolate is the same. The Ocumare has what I call a traditional dark chocolate flavor. Dark, rich, very smooth consistent flavor all the way through. I’m terrible with words but it has that “chocolatey” flavor. Its the flavor of chocolate that I remember from when I was younger. Its not the chocolate-for-the-masses stuff but a flavor I always associate with “real” chocolate. Maybe its a mix of flavor and the scent of real fine cocoa. Not sure. But I like it. A lot. For the traditional dark chocolate lover, this is an excellent bar for them (along with the Madagascar). Some people just like their chocolate dark and nothing but dark.
Here’s the fun part about Amano: They are a U.S. company and the chocolate is made right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A, up in Utah. (Insert patriotic music here) My point being that its pretty rare to have a chocolate this good from within the US. The majority of the time, I’m pulling stuff from France or South America to get that flavor. True, Scharffen Berger is here (has Hershey destroyed them yet?), but despite my love of Scharffen Berger, I would put Amano up against them easily.
Another thing I like about Amano is their ingredients list. All the usual suspects, although no lecithin, which is interesting. One stuck out: whole Tahitian vanilla pods, suggesting they grind it as part of the process. Not sure. I’m curious about how they manufacture this because often you will see “vanilla” as an ingredient in other chocolate, which tells you it comes from an extract of some type. Hmmmmm. This may be part of the “artisan chocolate” secret. :)
I also like the fact they print the date and lot number on every bar. Better accountability in today’s world of food. Smart idea.
So, bottom line, Amano is a serious winner in the chocolate world. Its been a long time since I’ve had something good to talk about for Chocolate Friday. If you have a chance to order some of this, I would definately recommend it.
Oh, and they are hiring. Sigh. Amano, why couldn’t you have been from upstate New York? ;)