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In Defense of the Pink Peppercorn

Posted: Aug 10 2012

The Pink Peppercorn from South America is a very subtle berry you may not know much about, but it is an important ingredient to some pretty spectacular chocolates. Despite the prevalence of more than a few choices of chocolate and peppercorn, this chocolate concept  is still new to many, and ill regarded by more than a few. Briefly banned by the FDA in the 80's, these peppercorn-likes have carried the connotations of health hazard, but are now understood to be less of a threat than any fine liquor and certainly a measure more delicious.


Like pepper, the pink peppercorn has a strong spice to it, but it also carries tangy floral notes. Also, unlike its spice counterparts, the pink peppercorn delivers a swift burst of flavor that fades quickly to a muted aftertaste. The sudden onset of favor followed by a quick dispersal is the reason the pink peppercorn works so well in chocolate. When the tangy peppercorn taste reaches its peak in your mouth all your taste buds become alert and awake, and the combination of flavors that follow take full advantage of that awareness.

At the boutique, we've done tastings with the peppercorn front and center using three bars that highlight different aspects of its unique tastes.

Hachez makes a dark chocolate bar that couples the pepper taste with strawberry in a very deep chocolate. The robust nature of the cocoa really builds the spice into a solid punch that maintains a full flavor profile even after the chocolate is long digested.

Following that, Belgian chocolatier Dolfin makes an excellent milk chocolate pink peppercorn bar. The company is well know for mixing flavors in particularly subtle and decadent ways. The peppercorn bar is no exception, as the lighter, more creamy chocolate gives the peppercorn more room to work. There seem to be fewer peppercorns throughout the bar, but the chocolate itself takes on the flavors of the spice.

Lastly, Vosges has an interesting white chocolate Amalfi bar. By using white chocolate, you can taste the full force of the peppercorn is in every bite, creating an unbelievable explosion of flavor. To accent this, Vosges has added a pinch of lemon zest that serves to bring out the tangy spicy element of the peppercorns. True to the rest of the Vosges line, the senses are overwhelmed by the combination.

All told, this little spiced berry has come a long way and done many things for our collective culinary palette. If you, by chance, get a hold of the pink peppercorn, I readily suggest you dive right into it, tongue first.


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