Bertil Åkesson owns cacao plantations in Brazil, Indonesia and most famously in Madagascar and chances are that if you’re eating single origin Madagascan chocolate from craft bean to bar makers, it’ll be his beans that you’re eating. Ambolikapiky is one of four cacao growing estates in the north western region of Madagascar located in the Sambirano Valley near Ambanja, but it’s the main one Bertil uses to make his own Madagascan bars. Åkesson’s only grow about 2 tonnes of criollo every year, so in a sense this is a rare bar from a limited crop.
In general I often prefer trinitario varieties because I’m fond of fruity and acidic flavours, although I do very much appreciate the refined nature of criollo beans and ultimately, the chocolateyness. With Madagascan cacao it’s not just trinitario varieties that are fruity and acidic, the terroir imparts a fruitiness on almost all of the cacao grown there, including the limited amounts of criollo. It’s here that Madagascan criollos bridge the gap between criollo and trinitario style chocolate offering both refined cocoa flavours with fruity and acidic notes, something almost unique to Madagascar. My expectations for this bar were that it should deliver both of these aforementioned qualities, showing a tamer more refined side to fruity Madagascan cacao. I wasn’t disappointed, this bar offered both refined cocoa notes and a soft stonefruit and tart berry acidity that helped to lift the bar. On top of this, there was a complex interplay of yellow stonefruit, tart berries and tropical fruits layered on a refined cocoa base. While this bar wins out in terms of flavour, it is not flavour at all costs, the bar has a great mouthfeel, is well balanced and is great on the finish too. It has me wondering if Madagascan criollos just might be my favourite kind of chocolate.
Ingredients: Cocoa, organic cane sugar, pure organic cocoa butter, emulsifier (GMO-free soya lecithin)
Colour: Medium brown, good amount of purpling
Texture: Very smooth
Mould: Big Å Åkesson’s mould
Snap: Very Crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte sheen
Notes: Rich cocoa, fudge brownie
Quality: Rich, deer, honest
Evenness: Slow start speeds up a little, mouthfeel consistent and even
Texture: Velvety, touch of jammyness
Quality: Refined, consistent
Notes: Apricot, soft peach, light gooseberry
Quality: Little tart, uplifting
Notes: Honey, ripe fruit, jam
Type: Bitter, sweet
Notes: Bitter cocoa, floating tropical and stonefruit, passionfruit, papaya, apricot, peach, tart berries, gooseberry, seabuckthorn, touch of citrus
Quality: Subtly complex, refined, soft
Flavours overlap each other, but combinations last over the length of the melt, flavours are extremely rounded
Notes: Cocoa, passionfruit, lime
Quality: Acidity finishes cleanly, cocoa notes stay after the finish, leaving a baked chocolate cake flavour to fade slowly
Bar is extremely well balanced, all flavours match up to produce a tone of cocoa and fruit for the bar that work together as a whole, medium structure holds the cocoa stable and allows the fruit to play
Bar is balanced and complex, has good depth and great dimension, structure is uniform, expression is individual and unique of terroir, expressing both criollo and Madagascan characteristics.
Åkesson’s Tasting Notes: Located in the Sambirano Valley, in the North-West of Madagascar, the plantation produces since 1920 world-famous aromatic cocoa. Besides 300 tons per year of Madagascar trinitario cocoa, a very limited production of criollo cocoa (2 tons per year) is harvested separately. This chocolate has a very expressive cocoa aroma with subtle fruity-sweet tartness and pleasant flavour notes that evoke citrus and red berries.