Although Christopher Columbus is thought to have been the first European explorer to find cacao in the New World in 1502, he barely gave it a notice and stuck to his main mission to reach India. The elusive value of this incredible edible seed was not realized until 1519 when Hernán Cortés, a Spaniard, observed that cacao beans were the primary currency in most of Mesoamerica and highly valued as ceremonial food. When cocoa was finally introduced to Spain (first as a medicine), the Spanish worked diligently to keep it a secret from the rest of Europe. Thus began a love affair with chocolate that spread throughout Europe.
Of course it was all organic back then since industrial chemicals had not been invented yet. Today we look to Spain again for organic chocolate inspiration and see what they have learned after a few hundred years of practice. For this we look to the venerable Blanxart of Spain and taste their Chocolate Ecológico Negro (Organic Dark Chocolate).
Bombons Blanxart has been in operation since 1954 and makes a wide variety of bars, truffles and other chocolate confections. Staying true to their roots and their community, they continue to operate in artistic epicenter of Spain — Barcelona. Besides the bars for eating, they also make unrefined blocks of chocolate for dissolving in hot milk for an authentic Spanish hot chocolate (Chocolate a la Taza).
Blanxart Organic Dark Chocolate
Although the full range of Blanxart products is difficult to find in the USA, I was able to secure some organic dark chocolate bars to taste. They make a 72% dark chocolate and a milk chocolate bar that are USDA Certified Organic and CCPAE Certified. CCPAE is the organic certifying body in the Catalonia region of Spain.
WHAT: Blanxart Organic Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao, 3.5oz (100g) Bar. Ingredients: cocoa, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, and natural vanilla. Blanxart get’s their cacao beans from Ghana and the Dominican Republic, but it’s not clear which beans they use in this bar or whether it’s a mix. Price range: $$ Where to buy.
WHEN: 7 January, 2010
OVERALL RATING: 76
AROMA: Muted pear, hay, banana.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Faint lemon and apple notes slowly open up.
MIDDLE TASTE: Avocado, lemon, apple, lightly toasted bread, milk.
FINISH: Butter, vanilla, wax beans, faint coffee-milk, apple, pear, and marshmallow at the very end.
TEXTURE: A bit chewy and pliable at first, then melts to smoothness.
LAST BITE – A good choice for those that want organic chocolate with greater than 70% cacao, but don’t like overly aggressive cocoa flavor. This chocolate is definitely more mellow and subdued without any bitterness or heavy sweetness. At first I thought the bar might be a little cold since I did the tasting first thing in the morning in a cold house. Then I warmed the bar a bit and the flavors intensified a little, but were still pretty subdued for my preferences. My original rating was lower, but I’ve raised it a bit to compensate for my bias towards highly assertive dark bars (maybe a guy thing). For me, this well-integrated, highly refined, mellow style is reminiscent of some Belgian chocolates that I’ve tasted. If you like that style, this is the bar for you.
Notes:  Disclosure – I paid for the chocolate myself.