I’ve been searching for ginger-flavored chocolate that goes beyond the familiar Chocolove commonly found at upscale grocery stores and bookshops. What do I have against Chocolove? After all, when I conduct tastings in my chocolate class, Chocolove’s Crystallized Ginger in Dark Chocolate often rises up as a crowd a favorite. Well, Chocolove uses Belgian couveture chocolate and I find much, but not all, Belgian couveture is overworked to the point of moving a bit too far down the road towards tastelessness.
The other American masters at melting couveture and blending with flavors – Vosges Chocolate – simply don’t have a ginger bar despite their prolific assortment of flavors. Don’t get me wrong, you can get good results melting couveture (chocolate made in someone else’s factory and bought in bulk) into bars, but it’s got to be great couveture . In contrast, Taza’s chocolate is organic and made bean-to-bar using a direct trade model of working with cacao farmers. That’s the direction that I’d like to see things go – more control of the chocolate making though involvement in all parts of the process and more sustainable practices in an industry that has had a so-so track record over the last century.
When Taza introduced their new Stone Ground Mexicano flavors earlier this year, two bars that leaped out from the new offering were the Orange Chocolate Mexicano and the Ginger Chocolate Mexicano. Those of you that have been following Taza know that the Mexicano disks were originally created with 55% cacao. What you may not know is that they started this way so that people could enjoy them two ways: simply nibbling on the bars or mashing them up into a rich drinking chocolate – just like the tradition of solid bars made in parts of Europe and Latin America.
But the new bars depart from that original path by sporting a higher cacao content of 70%. I asked Taza co-founder, Larry Slotnick, about the new direction and he explained: “What became clear with the success of the mexicano discs was that folks were eating these discs much more frequently than melting them into a chocolate beverage. They found the chocolate flavor just so robust due to the quality of the cacao we use and the minimal refining, that even traditional ‘dark chocolate’ consumers were really wowed by the intensity. Thus, we decided to expand the line with a tweak of the cacao percentage to give a wide swath of ‘dark chocolate’ eaters the minimum cacao percentage they often look for ….” Placing myself squarely in this swath, I needed to give these new bars a taste.
Taza Organic Dark Chocolate Review
WHAT: Taza Ginger Chocolate Mexicano. 70% Cacao. (2.7oz). Ingredients: Organic roasted cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic ginger powder. Taza Orange Chocolate Mexicano. 70% Cacao. (2.7oz). ingredients: Organic roasted cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic orange oil.
Where to buy Taza Organic Dark Chocolate.
WHEN: October 10, 2011
OVERALL RATING: Ginger: 82. Orange: 85.
AROMA: Ginger: strawberry and, um, ginger. Orange: tobacco, pine honeysuckle.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Ginger: strawberry, grass, herbals. Orange: light citrus.
MIDDLE TASTE: Ginger: ginger, berry, citrus Orange: clean orange – not sticky cream-sickle sweet, but crisp and clear. Some cedar and berry.
FINISH: Ginger: lemongrass, ginger. The finish is the best part where the chocolate and ginger stop competing and come into balance. Orange: citrus and cacao acid come into focus at the end. Otherwise, the orange is somewhat hidden by the chocolate until now. Some grassy mushroom at the very end. The ginger is a bit cleaner in the finish but you could say the orange has more complexity.
TEXTURE: Both have the trademark Taza rustic texture that comes from their traditional stone ground method.
LAST BITE: As far as the ginger bar goes, it’s not a substitute for Chocolove. Which is only saying these are completely different bars with completely different styles. The ginger bar get’s points for a clean finish and will appeal to those who enjoy more herbal notes.
For the orange bar, I was a little surprised by how light-handed they are with the orange flavor as if they wanted to avoid creating a clumsy caricature of a flavored bar. I guess it’s all about the chocolate in the end and you don’t want to cover up something so good. The verdict? I liked the orange bar a tad more for the perception of complexity and balance of flavor, but I would place both in my top three favorite Taza mexicanos.
 Couveture chocolate is normally used to prepare other confections such as truffles, bonbons and the like. However, companies that are making blended bars remelt other people’s couveture and mold the new mixture into bars. This chocolate often comes from Belgium since it’s the home of a few very large producers of couvture. For more, see Koko Lingo.
 I paid for this chocolate myself.