These two bars from Krak are identical apart from one thing: the length of fermentation. Try for yourself the difference between beans fermented for five and six days, with the bright upfront of citrus in the 5-day and mellower notes of plum, berry, and toffee in the 6-day
ABOUT THE MAKER
Before he turned his talents to crafting chocolate, Mark Schimmel was a talented pastry chef. He trained in three-star Michelin kitchens before eventually becoming head pastry chef in a two-star Michelin restaurant in The Netherlands. It was during this time that Mark developed a real passion for chocolate. He loved working with it as an ingredient and wanted to learn more. Eager to discover the role of origin, and to understand how even the smallest change to a recipe could dramatically alter the flavour of a finished chocolate, Mark established Krak Chocolade in 2013. Now, he specialises in chef’s couverture, supplying chocolate to some of the best chefs in Europe. He only makes a limited number of bars, which is why we’re delighted to be able to share his gorgeous chocolate with our customers.
Finca La Rioja – ‘Finca’ is Spanish for estate – employs four farmers, with each farmer’s family also living on the farm. The farm is 9.25 hectares, 7.5 of which is the Finca La Rioja plantation itself. The cacao grows among flowers, avocados, bananas, guavas, bees, squirrels, and woodpeckers. The woodpeckers like to hammer the pods, which reduces the farm’s yield, but the farmers will not allow any animal to be harmed in the cocoa’s production.
Originally, José María Pascacio Muñoz, the head cocoa farmer at Finca La Rioja, struggled with good fermentation. He sent some beans to Mark, who told him they were very good but the acidity levels could be better. With great help from María Salvadora Jimenez of Daarnhouwer, José began to research fermentation and change his farm’s methods. Slowly, they began producing beans that had fruity flavours and delicate honey and caramel notes. José sent a sample of the cocoa beans to Maria, who in return was dazzled by their flavour: “What are you doing with the beans?!”. This positive feedback from Maria encouraged them to keep their new method of fermentation, allowing them to sell for higher prices and reach more chocolate makers around the world.
It’s astonishing how much difference it makes. The 5 day has notes of coffee, caramel, raisin and citrus with a slight nuttiness. The 6 day has a very distinct pecan note that doesn’t exist in the 5 day. The 5 day has a funkier complex taste whereas the 6 day is relatively smooth and straight-forward.