From central Ecuador inland from the coast in Los Rios, Hacienda Limon grows Nacional Arriba cacao beans and uses traditional harvesting techniques to process their beans after harvest. You can read more about the farm on Pump Street Bakery’s website http://www.pumpstreetbakery.com/chocolate/ecuador. Once processed these beans are shipped to the small Suffolk coastal town of Orford for turning into one of Pump Street’s single origin chocolate bars. A bakery may seem like a strange place to be producing chocolate bars, but if you’ve ever tasted their single origin Ecuadorian milk pain au chocolat, you’ll appreciate that Pump Street’s passion for and dedication to baking transfers just as well to chocolate making, as it does to producing wonderful baked goods.
I’ve had some experience with inclusion bars now and more importantly I’ve tried a piece of Pump Street’s Rye Crumb, Milk and Sea Salt and had to admit that while I had my reservations I really enjoyed the flavour. I never had reservations in trying their pain au chocolat though, filled with their Ecuadorian dark milk. It seems I’ve made my allegiances, bread in chocolate and I’m hesitant, chocolate in bread however and I’m excited. I can’t help but feel with this bar that no matter what my general conclusions are, that it will taste good regardless. Opening the bar there is a distinctive smell of bread, not quite removing a baguette from its paper bag, but a rich complex wholemeal aroma, surrounded by brown sugar tones. Texturally its spiky or crisp, but consistent throughout and indicative of the crusty texture of bread, which carries you to the flavour, a wonderful combination of cocoa, sourdough, rich sugars and rounded off perfectly by the sea salt. This is a great bar of chocolate, it reminds me of all the best bits of chocolate and wheat breakfast cereals as a kid, but it’s a very adult experience and exploration of those flavours. My only reservation here is that this may be a showcase of how good Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough is and not how good the Ecuadorian chocolate is, yes they marry well and are almost perfect for each other, harmonised by the salt, but this is a combination of quality ingredients not an uplifting of the chocolate through inclusion. I guess the question remains what is the ultimate purpose of a chocolate bar with inclusions? I suppose if flavour be the answer to this question then this bar is a success. For me this bar isn’t really a great chocolate bar, more it’s a great experience that includes and is made better for the inclusion of chocolate, it is a combination of the skills and passion of someone who produces both bread and chocolate bars, combining some of the best elements of both. If I were to judge this bar in isolation then I would announce it a triumph, but to compare it to other single origin chocolate bars I am at a loss as to where to place it. For me bars like this are to be explored for their culinary delights and gastronomic success, rather than be scored as a chocolate bar, it’s just a whole lot more enjoyable that way. If you’re the kind of person who likes artisan bread as well as craft chocolate, then I highly recommend you try this bar.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, breadcrumbs & sea salt
Colour: Darker muddy golden brown
Texture: Rough, chopped nuts in fudge
Mould: 4 x 4 mould
Snap: Thick thud
Temp/Shine: Matte gloss, consistent
Notes: Cocoa, bakers crust, savoury wholemeal, honey, demerara sugar, sea salt
Quality: Authentic, complementary, distinctive
Texture: Honey, crisp, spiky
Notes: Lemon, salt
Quality: Uplifting, lightening
Notes: Honey, molasses
Quality: Developed, dimensioned, refined
Type: Sweet, salt
Notes: Wholemeal, artisan wheat/flour, honey, malt, browned crust, sea salt, browned butter
Quality: Distinctive, honest, balanced
Flavours are medium to long in length but round excellently, leaving you satisfied, salt helps in the round
Notes: browned crust, toasted cracked wheat, golden syrup, cocoa
Quality: Browned crust breaks leaving honey toasted cracked wheat and gold syrup like in a breakfast cereal, but cocoa lingers long on after the finish.
This bar is particularly well balanced, flavours are complementary and there is a harmony among them, light structure allows flavours to balance themselves
Bar has both depth and dimension of flavour, there is a richness and a balance to the complexity, expression is individual and indicative of inclusion, sourdough is highlighted most here under a complementary chocolate.
Tasting Notes: A unique combination of our two signature (and favourite) products: dark chocolate and sourdough. Our sourdough crumbs and a touch of sea salt add crunch and a smooth, malty flavour to the Ecuadorian chocolate. This is a unique combination and to our knowledge the first time a chocolate bar has been made with sourdough.