Box Chocolate Review

Chokola'j

Info Details
Country USA   (Long Island, NY)
Style New School      
lo
med
hi
CQ
Sweetness
Intensity
Complexity
Impact
Painstakingly conscientious – from presentation & ingredients to overall approach. More than a mere promise, potential is being developed & delivered here. Kennedy has done her research on several levels. Chokola’j takes its name from the Quiche Maya verb “to drink together” (see Coe, pg 116) & included among its graphic symbols are molinillos - the ancient stir-sticks. Closer to home, she’s a locavore who surveys & scours the local Hamptons / Long Island landscape for the best pick of cottage vineyards & boutique farms, all brought together by some culinary chops. Considering she’s a recent arrival on the scene, & still feels a wee bit inchoate, she just may be just 1 or 2 turns from the big leagues.
Presentation   4.4 / 5
handsome if somewhat contrarian set; tilts toward rustic to go w/ its use of organic Dagoba chocolate – simplicity over extravagance; nosher-sized pieces, many w/ condiments placed on top; appears to have the eye & technique to design more visual dazzle but seems bent on going to Unfinishing School to re-learn & rediscover original old-school traditions... & why not, w/ armies of MBAs & PhDs everywhere on the march, not having a degree may be the sign of unique intelligence in the future.
Aromas   5 / 5
honest & un-manipulated; nearly ideal balance point between couverture & infusions; few stand outs (piercing lavender or lemon)... most however have strong chocolate backbone
Textures/Melt   8.9 / 10
Shells: semi-thin
Centers: generally soft; restrained cream
Flavor   41.7 / 50
the equilibrium forecast in the aromas leans forward; infusions/inclusions get the better of it; innovative pairings, often jolting & loud, evolve remarkably well so that by the finish there’s a confluential still point, achieved once the piece is allowed complete, natural meltdown
Quality   25.6 / 30
A fair number of Milk Chocolate pieces yet still maintains high level intensity thru judicious pairing & inclusions. Seems to be flavoring beyond what’s advertised, as if extra teasers are thrown in the mix to heighten the sensation – Exhibit ‘A’: Lavender Flowers
Selections
Couverture: Dagoba
NOTE: Susan & Daniel Kennedy, the duo behind Chokola’j, claim salt is only used in pieces mentioning it by name. We accept that. However, salty sensations can be detected in other pieces too, interpretated as savory elements quite often are - a nod to their culinary skills.
Chamomile Honey – very sequential (chamomile –> honey –> White Chocolate) then the apple core of what seems to be Roman Chamomile fuses all back together; honey comes thru w/out overpowering (too often its tendency) & overall texture echoes it – viscous; good touch pairing White Choc shell (though a bit talc tasting) w/ Dark Choc bottom; absolutely excellent
Cacao “3” Ways (ganache / enrobing / nibs) – traditional organic flavor, i.e., flat drone, + Dagoba’s nibs always mimic fiber; slight savory salt hit spares it a bit by inciting a tang insurrection for the finale
Salt Peanut - there’s Salt Peter & then there’s this... deceptive aroma-to-flavor transfer; florid nose disappears on the tongue (or did it just absorb the surrounding aromas of its box mates) only to re-emerge at the end; in-between a semi-soft peanut caramel w/ chunks of fleur-de-sel, so the act of chewing becomes the salt grinder blowing up flavors & leaving skidmarks on the tongue; high-spun fun
Vanilla Flake Salt Caramel - chewy texture & big vanilla; salt heightens sweetness while broadening the range as if listening first in mono then switching over to stereo
Raspberry Almond – tart piece; bright sharp raspberry + some lemon aspects by the end overpowers the chocolate
Lemon Tisane – finely calibrated interplay between lemon verbena & Milk Choc for earthen flavor out of this world; tremendous
Juniper Cranberry – oddball; juniper berry sticks out like a pine tree while Milk Choc’s a puppy w/ no chance whatsoever to bite into its truck; cranberry conjures a bizarre bar blend of, say, Pralus’ Vanuatu meets Malagasy Sambirano; bonus point for unconventional
Lavender Flower – blue scrollwork transfer indicative of soap strength herbal w/ blue grass tone, mollified by salt to ill-effect, as it only eventually magnifies it; ends on a curious pine-nut stem-winder
Local Blueberry Port – alarming wine-&-cheese fragrance bends to overstated liqueur; part of the problem - softest texture in the set causes all elements to separate... yet somehow manages to regain structure after the melt where the base cocoa (Dagoba’s Peruvian Milagros – big on light fruit) smoothes out of port w/ clear blueberry onboard
Trebbiano - brassy & bracing; balsamic adds a deep tang developing into high notes; once more, patience rewarded in the evolution of the scheme as this piece progresses to a nice melting point
North Fork Red – Merlot predominates before the bean gets after it for straight chocolate grape; excellent
Pepita – toasted coriander, lime zest, & Milk Choc studded w/ pumpkin seed; very transparent; adds up to no more than the sum of its parts
Chipolte Ginger - only fire can cause fire... heat isn’t supposed to; this generates burns nonetheless; chili pepper way out in the front seat; cocoa butter provides some back balm; vanilla & salt add fuel, while ginger’s pretty much an innocent bystander
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