Did you know that cocoa beans are seeds of a tropical fruit, and that the flavour of a premium quality dark chocolate has distinct floral or fruity notes? Europeans have known this for 100's of years. As North Americans, the chocolate we've been privy to, has been so over-processed and made with such poor quality beans that those fruity notes are often destroyed during the manufacturing process.
To showcase the differences that cocoa beans can play in chocolate flavour, I have chosen four distinctly different cocoa beans to make 4 incredibly different dark chocolates:
PorcelanaHeralded as the "Holy Grail" of chocolate, there is such a small supply of these beans that only a couple of chocolate makers in the world have them. I am one. Porcelana exhibits incredibly prominent and delicate fruity notes with a chocolate undertone. It gets it's name because the beans are porcelain white when harvested. Once made into chocolate, the end product is a very light reddish brown. Our porcelana comes from a plantation in the Tabasco region of Mexico - a plantation whose guest book reads as a who's who of the chocolate world.
ChuaoAnother bean claimed to be the pinnacle of the industry, there are even chocolatiers who have named their businesses after this bean. Chuao originates from a tiny plantation deep in the Venezuelan jungle. Light fruity notes with hints of vanilla and a deep prominent chocolate flavour justify its reputation.
CuyaguaThe chocolate made from these beans is simply amazing, and the closest thing to what we've grown accustomed to here in North America. Prominent caramel and honey notes stand out above the incredible depth of flavour this bean brings to the palate. WOW!
BrazilianNot only do we make an incredible chocolate out of this, I've chosen this cocoa bean to be the foundation of many of our confections. It has an amazing fruity note up front, which seems to easily be controlled by roasting. The finish changes to a very nice nutty flavour reminiscent of butternut or macadamia nuts. The nice thing about the grower of this bean, is that he's a retired American who is trying hard to pave the way for other Brazilian farmers in the "fine cocoa" world.
OcumareGetting an honourable mention here, and originating from the Ocumare De Lacosta region of Venezuela, this particular bean has very little fruitiness to it, but a very nice, mellow, buttery/nutty flavour. The lack of fruity notes makes this an excellent bean to grind use for our award winning drinking chocolate. Don't get me wrong though... I have made chocolate from this bean, and honestly it's one of my all time favourites!
To further help you differentiate each chocolate, I have made a 70% bar from each of the first 4 beans, and in doing so used exactly the same recipe. Every bar has the exact same amount sugar, vanilla, cocoa butter, and cocoa beans. The only difference is the TYPE of bean used to make the bar.
Now you can taste several bars side by side and see for yourself!