France, S.America, 80%
If you’re a musician, or Italian, you’re probably familiar with the term fortissimo meaning to play loudly. Fortissima is the feminine form of the same word and Pralus’ Fortissima is a loud lady indeed. This blended bar is an aria.
You can easily spot Fortissima by its purplish brown stripe on the package and the bar inside, like all Pralus’ this size, is hefty and satisfying to break apart. On the surface it looks and plays the part of many high quality eighty-percent bars, it’s glossy and dark in color, but it’s really quite on its own. The bar is blend of forastero, trinitario and criollo beans and, although I’m not sure where the beans are from, the result is resoundingly full. (I should note three sources said the beans are from Ecuador, the coordinates on the package land you in Colombia, and the picture on their website has a pin a the map squarely in Panama. Because of the packaging we’re going to say it’s a South American origin.)
The aroma is brown-buttery with just a touch of herbaceousness. It’s not a heavy aroma though the bar itself is full of flavor.
Speaking of taste, the name doesn’t lie. I found it very well-balanced with amazingly forward roasted flavors. Cocoa, of course, but also coffee and tobacco. For an 80% this eats like a 60%. It’s smooth on the palate, has a very light acidity and has just enough complexity to keep it interesting. A great tightrope act since I’m sure the cocoa butter content is really high to get it this close to feeling like a milk. (One that’s had its sugar replaced by flavor.) There isn’t much else on the spectrum other than the roasted notes. Maybe a little bit of chamomile in the upper corners, a bit of dried figs in the sweetness, though I didn’t find myself missing anything either.
If you like chocolate that is full of dynamic complexity or prefer more acidity you might find this bar so-so. There’s not much of those qualities here. Personally this is probably in my top 5 right now. It’s so easy to eat that it’s a bit of a problem. Not that I’m complaining.
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.