As spring is finally beginning to make itself felt here in the UK, we have selected four chocolate bars full of a wonderful mix of flavours that we are sure will bring a little sunshine to your taste buds.
And as the season changes, what better way to celebrate than with a mixture of the old and the new? This month we have some truly fabulous new bars from makers we’ve come to know and love of the years, and who prove to be perennially popular in our Cocoa Runners Library. We also have a new maker to introduce who we have been speaking to for some time and are delighted to finally be able to give you a taste of his delicious chocolate.
Of course we at Cocoa Runners are always looking to improve and increase our chocolate selection, and it’s not always possible to include every single new single-origin bar in our monthly box. So if you like the bars we’ve selected for you, we urge you to check out the maker’s other bars and everything else that’s new on site. And of course if you’re looking for a recommendation, simply drop us a line via email, or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and we will be happy to help!
We hope you enjoy this month’s selection.
We first met Paco Llopis of Utopick at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris two years ago. Since then we’ve been chatting, exchanging chocolate and working hard (particularly Paco, his team and his business partner/wife Juanas Rojas) to bring you this bar.
The beans for the bar we’ve chosen began their journey in the north of Guatemala, in the tropical rainforests located in the natural park that surrounds the pristine paradise of the cenote Lake Lachuá. This is a bountiful region, also producing harvests of fragrant cardamom and coffee. When it comes to the cacao, there is a particularly rich range of varietals, which give the chocolate its wonderful blend of flavours.
The Qeqchi Maya families that live in the region cultivate cacao beans in a rigorous Transparent Trading model, which secures prices for the cacao for producers that are even higher than Fair Trade, whilst ensuring responsibility and accountability at every stage of production.
You can try Utopick’s Dark Chocolate from this month’s box here, and find the rest of Utopick’s bars in the Chocolate Library here.
Next we’ve a new bar from Barcelona-based Blanxart. A few years ago, we tasted a bar from Blanxart which blew us away with incredibly ‘chocolatey’ flavour (there is no other way to describe it). Since we introduced this bar to you it has become one of our most popular dark chocolate bars. And now the artisans at Blanxart have come up with a new twist on this old favourite. This bar is a darker, more intense version of the Dominican Republic 70%, using a new recipe and slightly different beans, giving a similar yet highly distinctive flavour.
When it comes to chocolate, Blanxart has years of experience to help them craft its bars. Making chocolate since 1954, today Spanish maker Blanxart remains faithful to its origins; is uses the same logo and its production is overseen by fourth generation master chocolatier Xavier Cordomi. Like his forefathers, he has passion for chocolate and a meticulous eye for detail. The high quality of Blanxart’s chocolate is a reflection of this constant search for improvement and the many hours of training its staff put in.
Next we have a dark chocolate from one of Venezuela’s oldest and most renowned chocolate families. he Franceschi family has been growing and exporting Venezuelan cacao since 1830. On the family’s farm in the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela, they grow a number of rare Criollo varietals. These are genetic strands of cacao unique to Venezuela but famous across the world for their unique and delicate flavours. Thanks to its farm and links to other farmers, Franceschi is doing a lot of work to protect these rare varietals.
The Canoabo bean used in this bar is a Criollo varietal, which originates from the south of the Maracaibo lake, in the foothills of the Andes. It is from this region that Criollo varietals have propagated to the humid coastal areas, with Venezuela today boasting more than thirty different types of Criollo. So, when Franceschi proudly declare Venezuela the birthplace of extra fine cacao, offering the broadest range of flavours and aromas, it is a claim far from lacking in substance.
For the milk chocolate aficionados, we have a wonderful new treat from Cornwall’s Chocolarder. Chocolarder is the creation of former Pâtissier, Mike Longman, who began his bean-to-bar journey after committing to make as many of his own ingredients as possible.
Starting out in his kitchen, Mike now operates out of a small factory in Cornwall, and is currently crowdfunding to help him build a larger workshop and café space. Mike is dedicated to sourcing unique and exciting local inclusions ranging from wild gorse flower, to the Cornish sea salt used in this bar. Mike is dedicated to a production process that is truly transparent and sustainable, both economically and ecologically
And for those who like to keep things dark, we’ve a beautiful bar from French chocolate experts Pralus, made from some of the finest Madagascan beans.
The sleepy, picturesque commune of Roanne in the Loire valley provides the romantic backdrop that you might expect for the workshop of a legendary chocolatier and chocolate maker. Founded in 1948, Pralus originally earned international repute under celebrated pâtissier, Auguste Pralus, whose ingenuity concocted the enchanting creation of the Praluline, a brioche strewn with nuts caramelised in rose sugar. It was a creation that earned him the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France and the French Order of National Merit. But when son François took over the family establishment in 1988, the spirit of innovation burned brighter still, as an initial interest in chocolate came fully to fruition when François became one of France’s first bean-to-bar chocolate producers. Today, Pralus’ single origin chocolate adventure has even extended to its very own plantation amid the tropical climes of Madagascar, where the beans for this bar were grown!