Spanish chocolate is something of a new experience . Spain isn't the country that jumps to mind when one says chocolate, but chocolatiers from Spain have become some of the major players in pushing the envelope on new and interesting chocolate. Cacao Sampaka is a rising brand in the world of chocolate and it takes little more than a taste to understand why. From the quality of the cacao beans, the ratios of ingredients, the processing method, and the variety of flavors, Cacao Sampaka leaves a unique impression upon the palette that makes the average person wonder if this is the true face of chocolate at its finest.
We have an excellent assortment from Sampaka, and I have had the laborious task of tasting these fantastic flavors. Each package comes with a pair of very slim bars, the thinness of the chocolate bars helps to accent the flavors within.
White Chocolate with Rose and Strawberry:
It seems the more I talk about my dislike of white chocolate, the more white chocolate finds a way into my heart. This chocolate hardly qualifies as a white chocolate, however. I refer to it as a Rose Strawberry bar, because it is those flavors that take the center stage. The light but pervasive flavors of the rose petals accent the more powerful flavors of the strawberry without being over powered. The combination creates flavor that is greater than the sum of its parts. The sweet almost tart notes of the strawberry blend almost seamlessly into the floral notes of the rose. It is a flavor that is best showcased in a white chocolate. The high quality cocoa butter imbues a creamy taste without infringing on the other tastes. White chocolates are characterized by high content of cocoa butter and low content of cocoa solids, cocoa butter doesn't have as strong a taste, and as a result most American White Chocolate are filled with sugar and other preservatives that give it a cloying, almost waxy taste. I believe in the Rose Strawberry bar, they've left the cocao butter untouched for the most part, leaving just a warm creamy texture to accent the sweet flavors of strawberry and rose. There is a beauty in this bar that could not be created any other way.
Milk Chocolate Gin and Tonic:
When one thinks of citrus and chocolate, orange comes to mind, but rarely do we think of lime. Cacao Sampaka's Gin and tonic bar begins with a burst of citrus lime flavor, tart with a strong sense of lime zest (as opposed to a lime juice). The gin follows and compliments the lime with a crisp liquor taste that prevents the lime flavor from seeming sour. The chocolate adds a hint of sweetness, but each flavor is particularly strong and distinct. The zest, the gin, and the chocolate each tickle separate quadrants of the palate, and, as a result, they resist muddling the taste as a whole. This bar has a keen, almost sharp, sense of its own tastes, and is a refreshing deviation from the average chocolate.
Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt:
The color of Cacao Sampaka's dark chocolate surprised me, more than a dark brown this chocolate is the color of night. A single taste reveals a very deep and rich dark chocolate flavor accented with sea salt from Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain. The magic of this bar is locked away in the ratio of chocolate itself, and that is a difficult taste to unlock. It lists itself as a 64% cacao, but tastes much darker. The flavor of the cacao bean is pronounced and vibrant, which may indicate more cocoa solids than cocoa butter. Additionally, the Ibiza salt helps to bring the cacao flavors to the forefront.
The Ibiza Salt itself is a particularly high quality ingredient, with a wide breadth of hearty and warm flavors imbued by the sun drying process. With such a complex flavor profile, the salt is able to accent the chocolate without overpowering the flavor. It is an inspiring piece of chocolate to taste.
All of these bars are carefully measured and molded to have the perfect amounts of everything. While I may not have historically thought of Spain as a major center of chocolate, Cacao Sampaka is changing my mind about that.