Category Archives: Zotter

Two Pigs in a Pod: Tasting Bacon and Chocolate by Zotter

Zotter Organic Chocolate from Austria

Zotter Bacon Chocolate

Zotter Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits (left) with its layered nougat and dark chocolate and Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon and Grapes (right) with its unique disk shape

I’ve tasted Zotter’s organic chocolate bars before, but only recently laid my hands on some of their flavored bars.  Zotter Hand-Scooped is a complex layering of ganache or Nougat and chocolate couvetures to make something that’s full of surprises in texture and flavor.  On the other hand, Zotter’s Mitzi Blue chocolate is a small solid chocolate disk fused to the center of a separate large disk, usually of a different flavor.  From there, the possibilities are endless – giving Zotter a creative license to combine all sorts of flavors that go well beyond simple pure chocolate.

For the Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits bar, Zotter combines bacon with hazelnut nougat and cinnamon and enrobes it with 70% dark chocolate.  The Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes is actually dried grapes, or what most of us would call raisins, in milk chocolate with hazelnut nougat [2].  Both strike me as great ideas if you believe the popular adage bacon makes everything better.  Let’s see.

Zotter Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits in Chocolate

Cinnamon and nuts dominate the aroma.  The flavor is pastry-like and sweet, at least compared to my usual staple of dark chocolate.  I can feel the crunchiness of the bacon against the backdrop of soft hazelnut nougat, but neither the nuts nor the bacon were distinctive for me.  Something happens with the melding of flavors so they lose their identity.  Cinnamon was the most present, but still it all combined to make something new and relatively intense.  I have to admit, I’m not a fan of cinnamon in chocolate and the cinnamon is one flavor that stood out just a bit.

If you like cinnamon in chocolate, this may be one for you.  It has potential as a complement to a good light-roast cup of coffee.  It has this chocolate coffee-cake quality to it.  A good bar, but I’m looking forward to trying the Hand-Scooped Ginger more.

Update:  I tried it again a few weeks later with some coffee and it was a really nice complement.  The nutty spicy flavors were just asking for a something to drink and coffee pairs well.

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes package art [3]

Zotter Mitzi Blue Bacon Bits with Grapes Milk Chocolate

Zotter goes all the way and uses full cream milk chocolate in this bar so you get a sense of richness.  So even though milk chocolate is often, in my opinion, the White Zinfandel of chocolate, Zotter shows us that it can be done with high quality and care resulting in full flavors rather than dilution.

The center disk appears to hold most of the bacon – little crunchy bits with a hint of salt.  I would have liked more salt to bring out the savory character of the cocoa butter and milk, but I also trust that Zotter had a reason to do things this way.  The raisins were big and plump adding interest to both the texture and flavor.

Of the two bars, this was my favorite – ironic since I’m not big on milk chocolate, but this bacon chocolate bar is rich, creamy and way more interesting than the average milk chocolate bar.

As for Hand-Scooped Bacon Bits, try it with a crisp light roast coffee. I’m excited to move on to the Hand-Scooped Ginger chocolate next.

Notes:

[1] I paid for these bars myself.

[2] Nougat is simply chocolate (with sugar) mixed with nuts or fruit or both.  In Europe is it most often associated with nuts.

[3] Mitze Blue package photo courtesy of Zotter Chocolate.

Zotter Labooko Peru 60% / Peru 80% Dark Chocolate

Zotter Labooko Peru package art by Andreas H. Gratze

Zotter Labooko Peru package art by Andreas H. Gratze

I’ve only recently discovered Zotter, the quirky and creative Austrian chocolate maker. Maybe I’ve been too busy tasting other bars or maybe it’s because Zotter is a bit hard to find here in the USA. Either way, I’m now furiously tasting everything that I can get my hands on. What’s captured my attention with this guy and his factory set in the village of Riegersburg, Austria? First of all, he’s doing all fair trade certified and organic bean-to-bar chocolate – an important factor for the planet and the people of the world growing cacao. What’s more, Zotter’s approach to chocolate-making is simply a whole lot of fun – from the award-winning package art to the one-of-a-kind Labooko bar sets. Labooko is two bars in one. You can enjoy and compare two bars from a different region or two bars from the same country using different beans.

Labooko Peru 80% - Peru 60% is not just the same chocolate at two different strengths

Labooko Peru 80% - Peru 60% is not just the same chocolate at two different strengths

So let’s start with the Labooko Peru 60% / Peru 80%, what I simply call “Peru-Peru” because I’m too impatient to spit that all out. The 80% bar is comprised of 40% Porcelana Criollo from the Aprocap cooperative.  A rarity among cacao varieties, Porcelana grows in striking porcelain white pods and is known for its subtle and complex flavor profile. For the 60% bar, they start with a blend of Peruvian cacao from the Acrapogro Cooperative and do an unusually cool roast at only 130°C.  How this translates into the flavor of the chocolate, we’ll see.

WHAT:  Zotter Labooko Peru 80% / 60% Dark Chocolate.  35 g each bar, 70g total. Ingredients:  cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, salt.   Where to buy  Zotter Labooko.

WHEN: November 27, 2011

OVERALL RATING:  85 (the 60% actually scored an 84 because it got dinged a point for aroma, but let’s call it all the same since I enjoyed the 60% bar at least as much as the 80%).

AROMA: 60%:  Very closed. Some nuts.  80%: More berry than the 60%, very light blueberry and nuts, light leather.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: 60%:  Light blueberry 80%: Cherry, blueberry, cream cheese.

MIDDLE TASTE: 60%:  Moves quickly into a burst of subtle fruit; honey, light butterscotch, custard.  80%:  Blueberry, cashew, caramel, brown sugar.

Labooko opens like a book

Labooko opens like a book to reveal two bars. Prepare to do some reading - a personal note from Zotter and a description of each bar.

FINISH: 60%:  One of the most unaggressive finishes I’ve ever tasted – low acid, no bitterness.  Light pistachio, honey, malt blueberry, and strawberry.  This is where the complexity appears – moving between flavors and then fading into a super long honey finish.    80%: Creme fresh, waves of spices – clove, ginger, cinnamon and black tea.  All pretty subtle with a bit less fruit than the 60%.

TEXTURE:  60%:  Melts slowly and smoothly.  80%: Similar – butter smooth.

LAST BITE:   If this Labooko was just two bars of the same cacao made the same way, one with more sugar than the other, that wouldn’t be very interesting. Instead Zotter goes to the trouble of sourcing two different cacaos and roasts and conches them to bring out their separate potentials.  Sure, there are some clear similarities in the flavors, but there is no doubt you can easily distinguish the two.

I fully expected to like the 80% better since I prefer higher cacao chocolate, but the 60% brought on a surprise ending with all that complexity suddenly appearing after being so closed at the start.  It gets my vote as #1.  The low roasting of the 60% beans translates into more fruit, something I prefer.  The 80% is one of those paradoxical bars, like Pralus Le  100%, that has high cacao, but subtle flavors owed to the use of Porcelana Criollo.  If you are into high-cocoa bars, but don’t want to get hit with astringent bitterness, the 80% is for hits the mark – a soft and round delicacy that you would expect from Porcelana.