Monday, August 13, 2007

Amano Single Origin Bars: Madagascar & Ocumare

It may come as a surprise to some candy eaters, but there really aren’t that many different chocolate sources in the United States. Did you know that there are only 16 chocolate factories (actual factories that make chocolate from bean to bar) in this country? Everyone else who makes products that contain chocolate get it from someone else. Usually a big someone ... someone in “Big Chocolate.” But every once in a while a little guy comes along and says they’re going to start with some beans and some sugar and and make some chocolate bars. Of course it’s hard to do that because chocolate making, in some ways, is about large scale. Large batches of chocolate mean lots of blending of beans goes on and then the product is consistent from batch to batch. An artisan maker can either attempt to create a cookie cutter product every time or embrace the individuality of the variety of the bean and the growing region.

Amano Single Origin ChocolateAmano Chocolate‘s Art Pollard said just that. His chocolate-making techniques are more like a classic vintner than a candy maker. As a small company he chooses his beans personally and supervises the roasting and blending of the single origin sources to create hand crafted, small batch bars. Each bar is marked with a lot number and a molding date.

The ingredients are simple: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter and Tahitian vanilla beans. Note that there’s no added soya lecithin here. (The only other bars that I’ve tried that have no lecithin in them are Theo and Michel Cluizel.) The packaging is equally simple but also appropriate. The bar is inside a nice matte paperboard black tab-top box and the bar is wrapped in a medium weight gold foil. (I’ve had plenty of bars that come in a microthin foil that is impossible to reseal around the bar because it’s torn to shreds.)

Madagascar Premium Dark Chocolate - 70% Cacao Minimum
From the package:

Around the turn of the century cacao trees were brought from Venezuela to Madagascar. This chocolate bar is made from beans from the children of those trees. The mild chocolate flavor, accented with citrus and highlighted by the particular flavorful Venezuelan bean is unique to chocolate from Madagascar. The result is a truly unique chocolate you will love.

Madagascar - tart with strong licorice and citrus tones. The tanginess seems to give the chocolate a very crisp finish, it’s smooth, but not as full feeling on the tongue as the Ocumare. Eventually it settles into a flavor rather like golden raisins. (Lot no: 3/4/59 date: 1/14/2007)

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Ocumare Grand Cru Dark Chocolate - 70% Cacao Minimum
From the package:

Once almost totally inaccessible, The Ocumare region has been known for its superior Criollo cacao since at least the early 1700s. We hand select these beans for their fruity and floral notes that pair well with the rich chocolate flavor. We then careful roasted them in our antique roaster to enhance their optimal flavor.

Buttery and rich with a strong woodsy component. A little peppery bite as well as a little rosemary note. The flavors are thick and resonant, with a deepness and complexity that was good for savoring but also extremely pleasant to mindlessly eat. (Lot no: 3/4/61 date: 3/8/2007)

I have a feeling that I just plain old like Ocumare. It’s my favorite single-origin bar from Chocovic.

I had several of these Amano Ocumare bars and found that they were much better, richer and more buttery after sitting for at least a month. So while “fresh from the factory” is good for some products, so is aging in the case of chocolate.

Brian from Candy Addict reviewed these bars and found them Awesomely Addictive. He notes a strong mint flavor in the Ocumare which was in a single molding of bars. Art Pollard dispatched a newer set of bars that did not have that hint of mint in them, hence the differing descriptions between our reviews (and more Ocumare for me!).

Amano’s been getting a lot of press lately, especially since their good showing at the Fancy Food Show in New York earlier this summer. Here’s a roundup of other reviews: The Art of Tasting Chocolate, David Lebovitz and Chuck Eats.

The final thing to note is the price. The bars run about $7.00 each and weigh 2 ounces - that’s over $55 a pound and isn’t a purty truffle or anything. In my middle-class existence that price makes these bars a “rare indulgence” but certainly for any chocophile is something that should be experienced. You can buy directly from Amano or possibly at Amazon (out of stock right now).

Related Candies

  1. Amano Jembrana
  2. Theo 3400 Phinney Bars
  3. Guittard Quetzalcoatl
  4. CocoaBella - The Night of the Chocolate Hangover
  5. Michel Cluizel Les 1ers Crus de Plantation
Name: Madagascar and Ocumare Artisan Chocolate Bars
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Amano Chocolate
Place Purchased: samples from Amano
Price: retail $6.95 each
Size: 2 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Amano, Single Origin, All Natural, Kosher

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:10 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Yay! I’m glad that you finally reviewed these - I’ve seen them “on deck” and been waiting anxiously. I sampled these bars at the SF Chocolate Salon and was impressed. The Ocumare is simply amazing. I haven’t actually touched the bar I bought yet, but I can’t wait to!

    It doesn’t hurt that Art is a hottie smile

    Comment by Kate on 8/13/07 at 7:33 am #
  2. I hope to post a review of the all-new Cuyagua bar on Thursday.  I think it is even better than the Ocumare, and I dare say, the best chocolate bar I’ve ever had.

    Comment by ChuckEats on 8/13/07 at 7:36 am #
  3. I can’t wait until it cools down enough here that I can start ordering chocolate again. Even sitting in the mail truck as it’s out for delivery would mean certain doom for any meltable goodies. I’ve added these to my “must try” list now!

    Comment by Heather on 8/13/07 at 4:05 pm #
  4. Cybele's avatar

    Kate - I taped a segment about Single Origins for KCRW’s Good Food a couple of months back and was hoping to run this review at the same time. (It wasn’t my best effort on the radio.)

    Chuck - Art mentioned that you were a huge fan of the Cayugua bar. I’ll keep an eye out for it (but I’m staying away from chocolate until it cools off around here).

    Heather - you have no idea the chocolate losses I’ve suffered lately in hot mail trucks. I’m thinking of installing a “cool box” by my front door for the postal folks to leave things for me (because they simply refuse to even put them out of the sun).

    Comment by Cybele on 8/16/07 at 2:26 pm #
  5. Hi,
    can you provide me with information in regards single truffles i need pricing and pictures.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Israe Vazquez on 8/20/07 at 6:29 am #
  6. Nice article! You can get all the Amano bars as well as many other fine chocolates online from http://www.atthemeadow.com.

    Comment by ChocoLuv on 9/12/07 at 7:56 am #

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