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Labookos
Hand-Scoops

by Zotter
Info Details
Country Austria   
Type Dark   (+ Flavored)
Strain Amazon   (+ Amelonado; + Nacional; + Hybrid)
Source Congo   (+Peru; +Ecuador; +Brazil; +Nicaragua; +Guatemala)
Flavor Crossover   
Style New School      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Acidity
Bitterness
Roast
Intensity
Complexity
Structure
Length
Impact
A new round of the world's chocolate flavorista (yes, now that socialism is so über oo-la-la Neiman Marxist chic) -- Zotter.

Labooko represent the deadpan connoisseur-level bar line; while Hand-Scooped fondants pack the fun (though no one should kid themselves that they're any less than high gastronomics).

Many might think it sacrilegious for Joe Zotter to consider his chocolate like his children. After all, his own daughter vaults up an ace barsmith herself. Nah, given how he & she tend to a menagerie surrounding their chocolate factory (literally), their bars are more akin to pets. True, Theobroma cacáo, a tree, belongs to the plant family. So, yes, phyto-pets. Raised with lots of good-luvin'. Each nurtured individually. Some caressed for 20 hours in the conche. Others administered a vigorous 5-hour treatment in line with Rolfing techniques (pity choc makers who wait 50+ hours on their conche!!!!). All of them optimized, potential realized, chocolate fruition.

If kids everywhere only received such parenting.

Maybe then the world could be a better place.

Mothers, after breast-feeding, can do worse than giving their babies Zotter Chocolate. Seriously wholesome: organic, fair-trade, significantly handmade. Sure beats infant formula.
Appearance   4.4 / 5
Color: Malingas: classic "Upper Amazon" polychrome
Seversal: Arriba purple
Brazil: brown tickled oh-so-slightly pink
Nicaragua: darkest mauve
Congo: silver-backed purple-brown
Vintage 2017: crosshairs brown
Surface: Labookos: shimmer-shimmer
Hand-Scoops: ripples
Temper: Labookos: subtle glisten
Hand-Scoops: dusky
Snap: Labookos: serial killahs; none sharper
Hand-Scoops: silencers
Aroma   8.6 / 10
LABOOKOS
Malingas (Piura, Peru; Nacional family genotype; 72% cacáo-content)
library quiet (soft woods / supple leather / ancient paper) + sparkling flint of cocoa-lit tobacco

Seversal (Vinces, Ecuador; Amazon genotype; 75% cacáo-content)
‘tree-to-tongue’, i.e., barn on farm blows away peanut butter scotch (shrugging off mite CCN in the mix?)
settles into a cinnamonized countenance

Brazil (Para; Amazon hybrid genotype; 72% cacáo-content)
cocoa grill over white laurel & bamboo chips

Nicaragua (Amelonado-based; 70% cacáo-content)
fab blossom nectar (peach / nectarine)
dried watermelon sugar
cigar tip!

Congo (Mountains of the Moon; Hybrid cacáo; 70% cocoa-content)
laid back so relaxed yet ground (roasted black tea) &, momentarily, cucumbered

Vintage 2017 (Peru / Ecuador / Brazil / Guatemala / Congo; Blend; 73% cocoa-content)
heavy & planar with an underside of outgoing char that sparks a spiced-chocolate

HAND-SCOOPS

bang-on their namesakes
Mouthfeel   11.9 / 15
Texture: Labookos: crackling
Hand-Scoops: from smooth to...
Melt: Labookos: somewhat jangled at first, then self-corrects
Hand-Scoops: ... to granular & even mealy
Flavor   47.2 / 50
LABOOKOS
INGREDIENTS: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter

Malingas
surprising sweet chocolate-chocolate -> cream sub-stream -> wondrous spice-fruit combo for a warm souring (nice) -> woods ear 'sroom -> back molasses -> mocha-almond latte

Superb dynamism & range. Acidity blaring yet cuffed by lipids & aldehydes as the biocompounds in this cacáo run replete with splendor. Outstanding.

Seversal
waxed slow-builder constructing dry wall FXs, holds this foundation around some grass mats until a background blackberry comes front & center (at first juice fresh, then concentrated dried!) -> rear cocoa-cinnamon -> resplendent cocoa butter

Mist roasting may contribute to the sheet rock moulding tags. Otherwise a generous & formidable bar of mid-heft weight.

Brazil
chocolate-vanilla in the centerfold -> caramel -> slow mounting fruit essence (Amazon grape [Pourouma cecropiaefolia]), almost stealth-like its build, juices up pitanga -> sharp gooseberry -> lazy bitter in the recesses (nice offset) as choc goes tannic around pink grapefruit

Zotter no stranger to Brazil, & Pará in particular. This bar demos experience. Definitional balance. Fortitude & grace. A chocolate without a weak spot.

Nicaragua
palm-sweetened fudge, straight ahead -> cookie dough -> black mission fig -> date sugar -> cream puff

Chocolate bullseye. For those seeking the uncomplicated. Simple but not easy (don't try this at home or at Hershey's).

Congo
leaps out a sweet brownie -> palm sugar -> big Turkish fig -> star anise -> mulberry -> vanilla -> caramel

More akin to a West African cocoa than a Congo. No major overtones seen in, for instance, OB’s Virunga from the same origin. Or Zotter's first release in 2011. Those owe to a different region in the country as well as supplier. The advertised “berries”, “red grapes”, “wine” in the liner notes never materialize. Instead a solid, fairly centerpoint chocolate with spice & brown fruit notes. Nothing wrong with that… at all.

Vintage 2017
tamarind cocoa -> lightens some on sweet jackfruit-cream… coasts steady along this rail… until hitting black walnut -> spice points (anise, myrhh, sassafras) -> breadfruit -> caramel bends over small charcoal -> walnut re-asserts at the exit

Vintage Chocolate – a topic covered in the C-spot™ years ago, inaugurated arguably by Valrhona’s 2002 Chuao & advanced most assiduously as of late thru To’AK’s experiments.
This bar dry-aged for over a year to an eloquent reserve. No brash jags, only a confident repose that belies a super-blend from 5 origins. Masterful in its seamless confluence.

HAND-SCOOPS

Hazelnut Nougat Brittle -- rich, rich, rich... with pop crunch sound FXs; hyper sweet for sure contrasts nuts layered in further depth by their own oil added in to help it go down / slide down extra easy; the whole gestalt creates a candied apricot at the back (though none included in the actual formulation)

Lingonberries + Peanuts + Salt -- PB&J Snicker's™; Zotter uplevels the sandwich; clever & cool

Coconut + Marzipan -- peaceful; just enough of a bitter almond, expertly collared in coconut & 70% chocolate, to break thru; terrific ratios to the elements; high flavor

Lemon Mousse -- mountain Milk Chocolate as only Alpine cows deliver filled with lemon cream further buoyed by a splash of grappa!!
Savory excellence (that’s right, savory because Zotter works in magical ways) that deserves a place in the annals of great desserts even if it technically (who cares?) isn’t one.

Ginger + Lemon -- Olde Worlde tastes ala boozed fruit cake harkens back to Austro-Hungarian Empire café; so much made out of the 2 titled ingredients that galvanize a host of phantom flavors not actually present, like apricots & morello cherries among others studded into a seeming gingerbread; have a slice, errr, a piece, errr, whatever, take a bite; hi-alchemy
Quality   19 / 20
Zotter at the top of their game. Which pretty much translates to the top of THE game.

A collection that can do no wrong. Yeah, the Hand-Scoops twee sweet (recipes could back off the sugar some, the first ingredient on the list) but still shy of agitating the dentist's drill. More than fantastic, their flavor combos roll up into portable edible fantasies.

Other than that, the only quibble would be the no doubt environmental friendly adhesive Zotter uses on its wrappers which stick with all the force of super Gorilla Glue™. Tough to tear these open if afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis.

Great craft.

Reviewed March 18, 2019

  

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