I saved this one for last because I was afraid that the heat of the chili pepper might overwhelm my sense of taste and shut down the tasting for the day. Not so. The heat in this chocolate was soft and balanced and a nice complement to the sweetness of the sugar. A welcome surprise for me since I am not into the kind of heat that comes with chili peppers. Indian food OK. Wasabi, great (I lived in Tokyo last year after all). Red hot chili peppers, only in moderation. But his one worked for me. Let’s get started.
WHEN: 26 May, 2009.
WHAT: Taza Chocolate Mexicano, Guajillo Chili. Stone ground. Organic. Bean origin – not specified. 2.7oz (77g). Price range: $$
OVERALL RATING: 77. This rating might be skewed a bit lower based upon my general disinterest and occasional dislike of chili peppers. This is NOT a bad rating. If you like the pepper accents, it’s well worth trying.
AROMA: Tobacco, Chili (sorry to state the obvious)
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Black pepper, caramel.
MIDDLE TASTE – Marmalade on toast, caramel, chutney on toast, cinnamon. The heat was not overwhelming although it did hit me at the back of the throat only briefly after swallowing.
FINISH: Carmel, chili, Cinnamon.
TEXTURE: Granular, grainy, coarse. OK, you probably sensed by now that I have become obsessed by the texture of the Taza chocolates, or more accurately obsessed by the question of whether it’s the result of coarse sugar or the kinder, gentler process that the cacao is subjected to (hence leaving behind larger grains of cacao). Well, the picture tells it all. Even though the Chocolate Mexicano has the coarsest grains of all and it’s sugar grains are undoubtedly coarser than your typical chocolate, the 80% is showing plenty of this intriguing grain personality. I’m comparing them both to the Valrhona as a “reference chocolate” that is widely accessible by most of us. You can see that they are worlds apart. Welcome to the new world.
LAST BITE – Overall these stone ground chocolates are an exciting innovation that I would recommend to anyone. This is not about whether smooth European-style or rustic Mexican-style chocolates are better – we can certainly enjoy both. In fact one would not be as interesting without the other. Without a point of reference for what is “normal,” the Taza chocolates wouldn’t stand out.
Of the bunch, the 70% was my favorite. It had the best overall balance of bitter and sweet and in my perception had stronger aroma and fruit notes. Give them a try and let me know if you agree.
Disclosures: I paid for this chocolate myself.