Tag Archives: Pacari Chocolate

Tasting Pacari Chocolate Covered Golden Berries

The golden berry AKA Inca berry.

The golden berry AKA Inca berry sits inside a papery husk. Photo credit: Flapdragon.

The golden berry or Inca berry is an antioxidant rich fruit indigenous to South America that joins the ranks of more famous superfoods such as the acai berry to emerge from the Amazon.  Scientific studies suggest golden berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help fight diabetes, cancer and aging [1, 2].  Take this exotic superfood, enrobe it in dark chocolate (already rich in antioxidants), and you have a nutritious and pallet-pleasing treat [3].  But what do golden berries taste like?

Pacari Chocolate Covered Golden Berries

Pacari Chocolate Covered Golden Berries

Pacari organic CHOCOLATE covered golden berries

Pacari’s organic berries are harvested in Ecuador where golden berries grow wild and are also cultivated.  They then take their organic single-origin dark chocolate and coat the organic berries to make little spheres of goodness.

WHAT:  Pacari Organic Chocolate Covered Golden Berries.  57 g (2 oz). Ingredients: Cacao beans, evaporated cane juice, golden berries, cacao butter, sunflower lecithin.  USDA Certified Organic.  Dairy and soy free. May contain traces of nuts.  Kosher – Parve.

Where to buy Pacari Chocolate Covered Golden Berries Online.

WHEN:  March 18, 2012                          OVERALL RATING:  Not rated since this is not a “straight” chocolate bar.  Overall, I give it high ranks for its unique flavors and potential health benefits.

AROMA:  Pronounced raisins, grapefruit and oranges.  Light tobacco, coffee and black tea.

Chocolate Covered Golden Berries Cut Open

The inside of chocolate covered Inca berries reveals a tart, golden fruit.

INITIAL AND MIDDLE TASTES:  Caramel starts up front followed by grapefruit, raisins and red wine.  Chewing some more releases a concen- trated tart citrus flavor that’s more complex than just one single fruit.  It’s more like a melding of pineapple, orange and grapefruit with a touch of mint and tea.

FINISH:  The end is almost all golden berry with the chocolate fading away first.  There are bits of seeds (or something like it) still hanging around, but they’re not like those annoying, impervious raspberry seeds that you get stuck in your teeth – these can be easily chewed away.  The finish is clean and slightly tart.

LAST BITE:  I like these a lot because the flavors are complementary rather than competing.  Whenever I have chocolate covered espresso beans, for instance, it’s a little bit like eating cheese with butter on top – two similar flavors made from potent, aromatic roasted beans.  I still love chocolate covered espresso beans, don’t get me wrong, but what’s cool about these chocolate covered Inca berries is the contrast of tart with sweet / roast.  Maybe there’s a reason it all grows in Ecuador.

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Notes and References:

[1] New cytotoxic withanolides from Physalis peruviana Lan Y.-H., Chang F.-R., Pan M.-J., Wu C.-C., Wu S.-J., Chen S.-L., Wang S.-S., Wu M.-J., Wu Y.-C. Food Chemistry 2009 116:2 (462-469)

[2] New cytotoxic withanolides from Physalis peruviana Lan Y.-H., Chang F.-R., Pan M.-J., Wu C.-C., Wu S.-J., Chen S.-L., Wang S.-S., Wu M.-J., Wu Y.-C. Food Chemistry 2009 116:2 (462-469)

[3] These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Pacari Organic Chocolate Raw 70% Cacao and Los Rios 72% Cacao

Two Pacari Organic Ecuadorian chocolates go head-to-head: Raw 70% Cacao (on top) and Los Rios 72% Cacao

Pacari Chocolate

When Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto created Pacari Chocolate, 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 fair trade and certified organic.  But Pacari takes it further by taking on a number of community outreach programs.  When I first blogged on Pacari Chocolate Coated Nibs last year, Pacari was already supporting three programs:

  1. The Organic Agriculture Education Program provides curriculum support for agricultural schools across Ecuador and ensures that organic production methods are integrated into the curriculum.
  2. The Technical Enablement Program coordinates the donation of used computers for use in the classrooms of agricultural schools around Ecuador.
  3. Reaching Potentials supports special needs education around Ecuador.

Since then, they have added yet another program, Project Flashlamp.  In the rural farming communities of Ecuador where there is limited access to electricity, people use battery-powered flashlamps for lighting.  Besides creating an economic burden for small family farmers, these expensive batteries can also become an environmental hazard when disposed of.  Project Flashlamp provides farmers with solar-powered flashlights that are charged in the daytime and used at night. Since the batteries can be charged repeatedly, they reduce both the environmental impact of disposal and the financial impact to families.

Pacari has three main product lines: raw chocolate, chocolate coated nibs and fruits, and single-origin chocolate bars.  I wanted to see how the minimal processing of the raw chocolate bars affected the flavor, so I compared the 70% raw chocolate bar to one of similar cacao content: the Los Rios 72% Cacao bar.  Both are organic chocolate, but the Raw Chocolate bar is minimally processed at low temperatures.  Adherents to the raw food movement believe that raw foods or foods that are cooked at lower temperatures (115 F is often cited as a maximum) maintain more of thier nutritional value and are all around more healthy.  I haven’t researched this topic and don’t have an opinion, but if you want to read more, please see this Wikipedia entry.

Since the Los Rios bar uses cacao from the up river region of the Guayas river, specifically from Los Rios province, it qualifies as true Arriba Nacional cacao.  Arriba Nacional not only has historical significance as a native cacao of Ecuador, but it is also sought-after for its combination of bold cocoa flavor with notes of tropical fruit and florals.  Let’s see if it lives up to its name.

Pacari Raw Chocolate 70% Cacao from Ecuador

Pacari Raw Chocolate 70% Cacao from Ecuador

Pacari Raw Organic Chocolate 70% Cacao

WHAT:  Pacari Ecuadorian Chocolate, Organic Raw Chocolate, 70% Cacao. USDA Certified Organic. 50g bar. Ingredients: cacao beans, evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin.  Dairy and soy free. Where to buy  Pacari Raw Organic Chocolate 70%.

WHEN:  March 13, 2010

OVERALL RATING: 81

AROMA: Wow.  A robust blast of cocoa, cantaloupe melon, hay, tobacco.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Cigarette paper, mushrooms.  Fairly closed upfront, but what happens next is exciting.

MIDDLE TASTE:  Bright fruit reminiscent of Taza Chocolate, citrus, blueberries, raspberry preserves, orange blossom.

FINISH:  Mixed berries fade to lemon, spiced tea, faint vanilla and finally spongecake.  Medium length finish.

TEXTURE:  Unyielding to melting on the tongue at first.  A slight bit chewy, but the snap was fine.  You need to chew it a bit to start it melting, then you will find a smooth texture to coat your tongue.

Pacari Organic Chocolate Los Rios 72%

WHAT:  Pacari Ecuadorian Chocolate, Los Rios Organic Dark Chocolate, 72% Cacao. USDA Certified Organic. 50g bar. Ingredients: cacao beans, evaporated cane juice, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin.  Dairy and soy free.  Where to buy Pacari Los Rios Organic Chocolate.

WHEN:  March 13, 2010

OVERALL RATING: 87

AROMA:  An intoxicating blend of honey, florals, fresh roses and cloves.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Mushrooms, blueberries, rhubarb, starts closed and then suddenly pops open with berries.

MIDDLE TASTE:  Super fruity with more balance and sweetness than the raw bar, cooked strawberry rhubarb sauce, berries, pepper, licorice, roses.

FINISH:  Pineapple ham, vanilla, mocha creme,  creme brulee with berries, caramelized sugar, brown sugar, anise.  Very long and sweet towards the end.

TEXTURE:  Melts more readily than the raw bar.  Smooth.

LAST BITE –  The Raw bar is the closest thing I’ve found so far to the bright fruity notes that sing out from most of Taza’s bars.  A bit less pine wood and sweetness than Taza, but the resemblance is astonishing given they are using different bean varieties and processes.   Of course, Taza is a different experience all together with their rustic texture, but they do share an approach of minimal processing that is responsible for these bright notes of the raw native bean.  Having said that, my impression is that the Pacari bars are a bit “underconched” meaning they didn’t spend long enough in the conche to remove the acidity that most European-style chocolates strive to avoid.  On the other and, this is a matter of judgment for the chocolate maker and clearly Pacari has managed to preserve much of the bold fruit flavor of the original beans by not over processing (besides, last time I checked, Ecuador was not in Europe).  I’d much rather a chocolate that’s a bit underconched than overconched since overconching results in tired and worn chocolate and like an overripe avocado, you get only a pale glimpse of what nature wanted the fruit to be.  So, if this chocolate plays it safe in the conch, so be it — the result is so much more forward fruit in a vibrant, lively chocolate that I could eat any time.

Overall, I found the Los Rios bar to be better balanced – presenting more sweetness  along with fruit and delicate floral notes despite the slightly higher cacao content.  I my mind, the Los Rios bar is the winner.  But, if you like the idea of potentially getting more antioxidants from the Raw Chocolate Bar, it too is a fun and fascinating pick with super bold aroma; go for it.

Disclosures: I paid for this chocolate myself.