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Nº1 & Nº2 Puro
Ecuador Raw
Perù Amazònico
Soconusco
PNG
Viet

by Donna Elvira
Info Details
Country Italy   
Type Semi-Dark   (70%)
Strain Blend   
Source Mexico   (+ Vietnam; Ecuador; Peru; Venezuela; PNG)
Flavor Sugar   (in a good diffraction)
Style Old School      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
Years ago -- like 2009 -- the C-spot® first reviewed Donna Elivira explaining the whole ‘Cioccolato di Modica’ style – very rough & crude (or rustic & simple, depending on POV), based on "traditional" (RE: mythical) Aztec / Mexìcâ methods, spuriously handed-down to Sicilians by the Spanish in the 16th century who were then conquering what is now Mexico.

The old-school way calls for cocoa, maybe spices - vanilla, chili, & cinnamon - & definitely lots of sugar (the latter two nowhere to be found in the pre-Columbian New World), then laid out on a lava stone, heated slowly by charcoal, & finally worked into shape with rolling pins.

Talk of cold-pressed, & untouched by modern machinery, is pure hype nowadays by cocoa-spittle-gurus, as most of these Sicilian makers simply re-melt couverture purchased from giant chocolate companies, adding more sugar to the mixture (the reason why almost all are in the semi-sweet to very sweet range). The amalgam then heated enough for cacáo butter to melt (roughly 95ºF) but not enough to dissolve the sugar crystals.

And sugar is what it's really about.

In the intervening years, Donna Elvira upgraded the course. Same style, just simpler -- more cocoa mass & less sugar & nothing else -- exploring sundry origins with far greater aplomb as this later set attests.
Appearance   3.6 / 5
Color: dark for all things considered
Surface: textured
Temper: surly
Snap: friable boulders (sugar crystals & pinholes along the break wall)
Aroma   7.5 / 10
Nº1 Puro
supple leather & soft woods, swaying palms hanging over
but a drop of light fleshy fruit

Nº2 Puro
same as Nº1 Puro (above) except for larger fruit spot

Ecuadorian Raw
Skippy's® peanut butter + some Reese's® Minis thrown in for the chocolate bits

Perù Amazònico
a yeasty bread affair… Welcome to the Bacterium

Soconusco
intensely tannic & dry as desert essence

Papua Nuova Guinea
sniffing down the double-barrel (one for each nostril) of a smoking gun

Vietnam
a smokey swamp billowing tall columns of chocolate overhead
Mouthfeel   12.7 / 15
Texture: course grind
Melt: surprising swells for unrefined / unintegrated bars
Flavor   44.9 / 50
Nº1 Puro
brown sugar / cocoa sugar -> roasted nuts -> smoked wood chips, char along the edges -> strawberry BubbleYum® -> clears scorched spice-cream

Nº2 Puro
sugar-on-sugar -> cocoa around the fringes -> strawberry shadowed by a burnt corona -> reverberates greater strawberry in the aft-length

Ecuadorian Raw
strong chocolate-peanut action backed by Donna Elvira's trademark char to complement the rising blackberry (emphasis 'black')

Perù Amazònico
cacáo verde (green, practically raw) opposite a sour punch -> levels off to citric sugar -> raw fudge -> walls up sheet rock

Soconusco
fine opening on blue agave & dragon fruit -> runs spicy (vanilla, brown sugar, Mecaxochitl [Piper sanctum]), then a 2nd fruit gush joins the party (organ pipe cactus aka ool / pitahaya dulce) -> cocoas out accompanied by sapote

Papua Nuova Guinea
another peanut load but smoked, attached to some peat & cocoa underfoot -> sugar comes on fast to take up most if not all the oxygen -> exhales sweet tamarind -> smoked chocolate down the gullet

Vietnam
chocolate-chocolate -> star apple -> those oud / sandalwood type fragrances so redolent of Vietnamese cacáo -> that preceding fruit now stewed (a mix of plum & prune in the same vat… one drying, the other re-hydrating) -> apricot -> guava -> poppy seeds & opium (superlative) -> backs out raw cocoa
Quality   17.4 / 20
Nº1 Puro
Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
72%; Criollo; Batch L199
Donna Elvira's foray into exclusive territory / origins.
Noticeably over-roasted though still able to portray the reclining nature of this regional cacáo.

Nº2 Puro
Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
68%; Criollo; Batch L200
More sugar &, alas, more embers
A poor exposition of Maracaibo cacáo

Ecuadorian Raw
70%; Batch L193
Supposedly "raw" (whatever that means nowadays) but some charred fragments question that while providing a welcome offset. No trace of the typical tell-tale "raw" indices (sheet-rock / dry-wall, cacáo verde / green cocoa / wild herbs, or offensive compounds).
A respectable Ecuadorian.

Perù Amazònico
More like what a "raw" bar should taste…. maybe Donna Elivria mislabeled these 2. Either way, passable under any circumstance though far from commendable.

Soconusco
70%; Batch L197
Really gratifying. Excellent & multi-dimensional all the way around; doubly so for a passively refined bar.
Demonstrates select sourcing, for Soconusco in SW Mexico can be rough & then some, + careful alignment in the semi-processing.
Should convince anyone today that cacáo furnished sufficient casus belli for Mexìcâ Emperor Ahuitzotl to send his forces all way up north in Tenochtitlán down south to Soconusco in 1495 to control the area's production of it. And this ain't even the original heirlooms.

Papua Nuova Guinea
70%; Batch L194
Quickest release & decay of the set, quite fast which will cause some 'consumer remorse' that the good is gone for PNG can be dicey yet this rolls up a hot chocolate in more ways than one.
True, sugar obscures by the mid-palate on... only for that mechanically dried cocoa which imparts smoked characteristics to stage a revival without which this bar would collapse either via cloyed-to-death or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Vietnam
70%; Batch L194
Viet cacáo, especially around Ben Tré often projects acidity, sometimes quite intense & blaring. This bar contains & controls that into a hi-def fruit basket. One of the sweetest, most succulent Viets produced. An all-star.

Capsule Summary
Old School (gritty Texture; melts a bit quick; short lengths) updated / upgraded. Donna Elvira a prime contender for the most unproved / comeback kid on the chocolate block.

INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar

Reviewed July 7, 2015

  

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