I came into this review with a preconception about chocolate plus fruit bars: chocolate makers probably use lower-grade chocolate to blend with fruit because the flaws in the chocolate will be obscured by the flavor of the fruit. Or, more likely, the nuances of the best chocolate would be lost among the more dominant fruit flavors. My bias was quickly blown away upon tasting Pacari’s bar. They’re clearly using the best of Pacari’s single-origin Ecuador dark chocolate with its soft floral and citrus notes. But before I dive too fast into the review, let me remind you of who Pacari is, just in case you havn’t been keeping up.
Pacari Chocolate is making certified organic chocolate in Ecuador from fairly-traded beans grown in Ecuador’s most famous cacao regions. When Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto created Pacari, they wanted to build a business based on socially and environmentally sustainable principles to ensure that their products supported the Ecuadorian eco-system as well as local communities. It’s no surprise that all of their products are certified organic and made from fairly traded beans. But Pacari takes it further by taking on a number of community outreach programs including programs focused on supporting agricultural education, special needs education and portable lighting for rural areas.
WHAT: Pacari Andean Blueberry Dark Chocolate. 65% Cacao. 50 g (1.8 oz). Ingredients: Cacao beans, evaporated cane juice, wild blueberries, sunflower lecithin. Dairy and soy free. May contain traces of nuts. Kosher Parve.
Where to buy Pacari Andean Blueberry Dark Chocolate.
WHEN: January 8, 2012
OVERALL RATING: 91.
AROMA: Potent. Honey, cloves, roasted ham, dark rum, leather, almond, burnt grapefruit peel.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Warm caramel, honey, malt.
MIDDLE TASTE: Pie crust, grapefruit, florals, lavender, raspberry. The chocolate and fruit somehow interact to create a satisfying wave of flavor in the middle that’s more like cherry and raspberry.
FINISH: Tart, concentrated blueberry balanced with the sweetness of the chocolate. The very end is a nice smoke / leather note. There’s something about the Andean blueberries that’s more concentrated and bright that allows it to harmonize well with the chocolate.
TEXTURE: Chewy with good play between dried berries and chocolate.
LAST BITE: When I recently reviewed another fine chocolate plus fruit bar, Amedei’s Toscano Red, I concluded it was a good choice for those who want to go slightly off the beaten path. Pacari’s Andean Blueberry Dark Chocolate bar is a great choice if you want to go far off the beaten path. Some people may want to lounge on the grass of a Tuscan hillside (Amedei) while others want to hike through an Ecuadorian rain forest (Pacari). Both are great, but the Pacari chocolate has more single-origin character and the the berries are more exotic with thier tart, concentrated fruit.
The best way to enjoy the bar is to quickly chew it a few times rather than wait for it to melt. This will get the berries and chocolate together in an intimate mix – the complex interaction is fantastic. You end up with something perceived more as raspberry than blueberry. Most impressive of all was that the chocolate does not play second fiddle to the berries – the assertive roasted notes come through as well as the prized floral and citrus that characterizes the best Ecuadorian chocolate.
Finally, I realize that the rating of 91 puts it on par with some much more expensive chocolates that I’ve reviewed. The rating scale is about what is enjoyable, not what is an ideally structured or the “perfect” chocolate for all people. This was a very enjoyable chocolate and that’s not saying it’s candy. No, this is dark chocolate with antioxidant-packed dried fruit; something I wouldn’t heasitate to enjoy daily.
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 I paid for this bar myself.