Pump Street Bakery Madagascar Milk 58% Ambanja 91.5/100

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In the north west of Madagascar is the region of Ambanja, a region responsible for producing some of the fruitiest chocolate that you’re likely to taste. The infamous Sambirano Valley is contained within the region of Ambanja, where Bertil Akesson grows cacao on his 2300 hectare family estate, growing both criollo and trinitario varieties. With an almost unbelievable amount of chocolate awards, this cocoa is well sort after by chocolate makers, with each imparting their own style on the cocoa beans. Pump Street Bakery try to bring out the citrus flavours while avoiding and overly acidic chocolate, as they see this as the true taste of Madagascar. Here we have one of three bars that they produce using Akesson’s Madagascan cacao their Ambanja 58% milk.

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I’ve tried plenty of Madagascan cacao now, including a good array of Akesson’s beans, but I’ve yet to try them in combination with milk. Most high percentage cacao milk chocolate bars that I’ve tried tend to feature earthy cocoa tones with smooth caramel flavours, somewhat similar to the idea of dark chocolatey espressos working well in milk. Here is something more unusual though, this is a fruity acidic chocolate and so I can only assume it will taste very different in milk to those I’ve tried already. My worry is that this bar could be sour, but my hope is that the fruity acidity imparts something more interesting and exciting than merely cocoa and caramel. Opening the bar I’m greeted by the familiar 4×4 Pump Street Bakery mould and some distinctive aromas of sour milk and blackberries, its refreshingly new. Following on to the taste I have to admit this bar might be one of the more refined dark milks that I’ve tried. There’s something about the interplay of acidity and milk that works really well in this bar against my inclinations. It’s a bit like lime and coconut, at first you’re not sure that acidity and creaminess are going to work, but then the acidity cuts through the creaminess enriching them both. There’s plenty of Madagascan undertones beneath the sour milk aroma that starts off the experience and there’s plenty of full rich creamy milk textures that play out in the mouthfeel. What comes to dominate here though is the fruity and dark caramels that weave in and out of each other carrying the predominant flavour, caramels in dark milk are usually creamy caramels, but here we get the other two sides of the caramel spectrum, the light and fruity and the dark molasses tones of a complex dimensioned caramel. This is a great example of how to do a dark milk bar well, it has all the benefits of a milk bar, with all the benefits of a single origin, but for me I might be inclined to prefer a 70% dark Ambanja given the choice. For those struggling with the bitter tones of single origin dark bars, this offers a flavourful welcome to single origin chocolate.

Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, milk powder

Appearance 8.5/10

Colour: Very light, milky lightly purpled brown
Texture: Polished granite, fudge
Mould: 4 x 4 simple squares
Snap: Thick, silent
Temp/Shine: Milky gloss, consistent

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Notes: Sour milk, blackberries, caramel, grassy milk
Quality: Distinctive, deep

Melt/Mouthfeel 9.5/10

Length: Medium to long, soft
Evenness: Even
Texture: Milky caramel, soft, smooth
Quality: Full, rich

Acidity 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 5
Notes: Blackberry, papaya
Quality: Sharp, cutting, rounding


Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Notes: Ripe fruit, caramel, dark honey
Quality: Developed, rich

Flavour 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 8
Type: Sweet
Notes: Fruity caramel, milk, dark honey and caramel
Quality: Deep, rich, distinctive

Length 9/10

Flavours are long and acidity helps to round the bar out

Finish 9.5/10

Notes: Deep rich caramel, lemon zest, smoke
Quality: Deep rich caramels weave over each other to the finish, with a hint of lemon zest before a touch of smoke leaves a milky cocoa caramel to linger

Balance 9.5/10

Bar is overtly balanced, with milk dampening, but enrichening the proceedings and the acidity cutting through it to equalise the levels, bar works well in harmony with a medium light structure that provides just enough support to hold the flavours in place

Overall 9/10

There is both depth and dimension of flavour here, plenty of balance, structure is uniform and expression is true of a high percentage milk chocolate, bold caramels are matched by the terroirs fruity nature


Tasting Notes: A creamy, luxurious whole milk chocolate with notes of caramel and treacle and the zesty finish characteristics of Madagascan beans

 

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