West of Puerto Cabello and east of Maracaibo, Macuare sits on the northern Venezuelan coast by the Parque Nacional Juan Crisotomo Falcon, not far from where Porcelana can be found. Hailing originally from Venezuela themselves, Ara Chocolat now take up residence in Paris, where husband and wife team Andres and Sabrina help to turn cacao beans into their sets of mini chocolate bars. Bringing with them a wealth of fine dining experience and a stint with Chocolates Franceschi in Venezuela they’re well prepared to make small batch bean to bar chocolate, while putting their own individual stamp on it. Ara’s philosophy revolves around Andres and Sabrina’s commitment to the environment and their desire to use cacao that is grown in harmony with the local ecosystem, furthermore they’re vegan, encouraging a simple approach to cacao production in which only cacao products and cane sugar are used.
Relatively new to the Venezuelan origin list, I’ve not seen many bars produced from the regions between Puerto Cabello and Lago de Maracaibo. While inhabiting the north Venezuelan coastline and there being mutterings about Porcelana growing in these regions, which seems to suggest some areas of quality cacao growing, there has been little in the form of bars to try. Here, however we are presented with one from right in the middle of that growing region. With nothing more to go on than a general appreciation for north coastal Venezuelan cacao, I’m left as usual expecting intense and refined cocoa with caramel and nuts. Opening the bar I’m immediately hit by acidic notes of citrus aroma and I get an early impression of what to expect. A refined and smooth caramel like mouthfeel leads us in to dissect the flavours. This bar is pretty delicate, there’s interesting things to be found here if one takes care to pay attention like a long dimension and complexity of citrus flavours, they just don’t feel particularly anchored to the bar. Bar has a lovely sweetness and might be one of the best expression of sweet citrus I’ve tasted, but could do with more confidence or backbone in terms of exhibiting its qualities. A pleasant mouthfeel helps the proceedings along and even the finish is desirable, but bar ends up feeling a little thin without enough elegance to carry it off. An interesting display of flavour offering something distinctive and developed, just lacking in enough confidence to show itself off properly.
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, cacao butter
Colour: Darker milky brown
Mould: Ara small 12 square blocks
Snap: Very crisp
Temp/Shine: Matte sheen consistent
Notes: Lemongrass, citrus
Quality: Acidic, rich, honest
Texture: Smooth caramel, juicy
Quality: Light, consistent, well refined
Notes: Grapefruit, citrus
Notes: Light caramel, ripe citrus
Quality: Developed, uplifting
Notes: Milk, grapefruit, lime, lemon, sweet orange, shortbread, butter
Flavours are a little thin, while being long, combinations of citrus wash over each other rounding each other out
Notes: Orange oil, cocoa
Quality: slightly dry, but clean finish with lingering orange oil and cocoa
Flavours are light, but blend well, sweetness and acidity seems to carry the bar and aid in its rounding, bar is balanced delicately, but on the edge, structure is very light
There is development here, which is present in the degree of dimension, but bar lacks depth, structure is uniform but remains very light. Expression feels honest, but there’s no boldness here.