Yesterday afternoon, while working on my chocolate book, I reached for a piece of what I thought was a bar made from Porcelana Criollo. This type of bean is grown in Venezuela, and it has one of the most delicate flavors of any cocoa variety. It tastes of cream and honey and lying on a blanket in the sunshine, or like someone you love has just given you a soft hug. It's one of my favorites, and I could eat it forever.
What I got instead was a piece of a bar made from 100% cocoa solids, called Coro Noir Amertume Extreme. "Amertume" is French for "bitterness." Both bars were made by La Maison du Chocolat, and they look pretty similar:
Come on, it's close! They're practically the same. And anyhow, my writing area looks like this at the moment, so it's easy to get confused:
Instead of sunshine, at first I tasted nothing at all. The flavor was quite muted. I let the chocolate sit on my tongue, waiting for it to melt, and then suddenly I tasted pure, dark soil with a slight metallic tang, as if I was eating a piece of earth that had just been struck by lightning. I felt a good deal of surprise and looked back at the bar, realizing my mistake.
I had really been wanting that hug of Porcelana, but as I ate my way through the 100% Amertume Extreme (btw, I love that name -- makes me feel as if my chocolate writing is an Extreme Sport for which I will win some kind of medal), I decided that the pure taste of cocoa was also comforting, in its own way. It's earthy and bitter and dependable, at least when it is done well. It made me wonder -- does cocoa even need the sugar at all? My bar yesterday did not. It was enough to just taste a solid rock of a cocoa bean.
What do you think - sugared or not?