São Tomé & Príncipe, 75%
One word that makes me cringe a little bit every time I see it, especially regarding aesthetics or food, is “mature”. It is true that our tastes change as we age but maturity, what is supposed to be the sum total of life experience and personal reflection, is often used as a sales tool. After all: don’t we all crave a little nuance?
But I’m going to use that word here to describe Claudio Corallo’s 75% from Sao Tome & Principe. (And I’m not even referring to his long standing position as a dedicated chocolate and coffee wizard.) This bar is very mature tasting not (just) because it’s complex and balanced but because it feels and tastes alive.
The packaging is a little silver sealed pouch which, devoid of much color, has a studious air to it. It certainly doesn’t pander to you which, after you’ve opened it, is good since you’ll immediately forget it. The aroma will guide you away from your eyes.
How do I put this? This bar smells a bit like a barn floor. And/or gruyere. It smells alive and microbial, like manure and earth. And, in this case, this is a very good thing. It’s a compact aroma, funky and chocolatey and very assertive. I’m not even a cheese fan! Or a manure fan for that matter. It could be illusion but it’s the strongest sense of terroir I’ve felt in a chocolate bar.
The flavor is very cocoa forward, with a bit of dustiness that I kinda associate with forastero (but I’m not an expert here, maybe he can correct me) but the profile is just very unique. Overall there are flavors of hay and tobacco, apples and malt. But that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that when I eat a piece I want to stop what I’m doing and either enjoy it, share it or dance. The chocolate just brings out good things in me.
Is it mature? Yes it is. Tobacco, cheese, malt and manure are hardly kids stuff. Maybe I’m growing up. Or maybe this is just mastery at work.
Being the son of a chocolatier Chris has always enjoyed talking about chocolate as much as he loves eating it. He’s an artist and designer as well as a co-founder of the Chocolate Codex.