Wednesday, February 29, 2012

TCHO Chocolate Reviews

My cousin was in town visiting for a few days, and today the weather wasn't exactly friendly for outside excursions. Rather than visiting standard museums, we decided to go on the TCHO factory tour!

The tour is offered twice a day, for free. It lasts about an hour, starting with a video and talk on how chocolate is made, then a walk through of the production facility, ending with a tasting of their 4 signature dark chocolates and 2 milk chocolates. The tour wasn't all that interesting to me, as I've been on a few chocolate tours, and they are all pretty much the same, but if you are unfamiliar with the process of chocolate making, it was well done. The factory wasn't really in operation, so the facility tour was a little boring, as we didn't get to see any fun machines in use. The tasting was slightly guided, with a brief talk on how to best taste the chocolate (break it to hear the snap, let it sit on your tongue, rub it between your fingers to open it up). I've been doing so many chocolate tasting events lately with more experienced tasters that this one was a little funny to me. The tour guide would ask, "So, what do you taste?" and people would respond "chocolate ..." or eventually she'd get them to say "fruity". I was laughing on the inside because I remember one of my first chocolate tasting events where I said "fruity" and got chastised for not specifying which fruit, in which form - I've now starting narrowing down from "fruity" to "cherries" to "dried cherries" to "dried bing cherries" to "sulfured dried bing cherries from Bella Viva orchards".

Anyway, on to the chocolate reviews! All bars are made with cacao beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla beans.  The milk chocolate bars have milk powder in addition. Their dark chocolate bars are all single origin.

Overall, I find TCHO to be good, but not outstanding. I tend to like dark chocolate more than milk chocolate (in fact, I'm generally just not that into milk chocolate), but TCHO is an exception, I actually like their milk chocolate more than their dark chocolate, and think it is some of the best milk chocolate I've ever had. (Patric's signature dark milk chocolate is still my favorite milk chocolate).

Dark Chocolate

  • 99%: Cacao from Ecuador and Peru. Tasting notes: Incredibly bitter, super intense. Not gritty at all like some super dark chocolate can be.
  • Chocolatey:  70% dark chocolate, Ghana.  Tasting notes: This has a very deep chocolate flavor, like a very intense fudge brownie.  However, I did not find the flavor to be very complex.
  • Fruity: 68% dark chocolate, Peru. Tasting notes: Smoother than the “Chocolatey”, with a  slight acidity.  Cherry notes.
  • Citrus 67% dark chocolate, Madegascar.  Tasting notes: I didn’t pick up on any citrus here, but instead got some floral notes.
  • Nutty 65% dark chocolate, Equador.  Tasting notes: Earthy, hints of chicory, but again not very complex.

SeriousMilk Chocolate

  • Cacoa 53% milk chocolate. Tasting notes: This is a fantastic milk chocolate.  You can tell it is a milk chocolate due to its creamyness, but it has intense flavor and is very dark.  One of my favorite milk chocolates.
  • Classic 39% milk chocolate. Tasting notes: Incredibly creamy, and if you want a more traditional milk chocolate that is still quality, this is a good one.
  • Mokaccino: Made with Blue Bottle Coffee. Tasting notes: Coffee undertones quite nice, creamy milk chocolate.

Treats

  • Dark chocolate drenched cocoa nibs: Tasting notes: Pretty tasty, good quality dark chocolate and a decent crunch from the nib.
  • Chocolate Covered Cashews: Honey roasted cashews covered in Fruity dark chocolate.  Tasting notes: I wanted to love these, but didn’t.  I enjoy honey roasted cashews.  I enjoy chocolate covered nuts.  Seems like they should go together really well!  I found that the honey roasted flavors were drowned out by the intense dark chocolate, yet at the same time the honey roasted flavor added a strangeness to the chocolate.  The ratio of chocolate to nut was also a little off, I wanted less chocolate.
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