Mostly found in northern Nicaragua, Chuno varieties can also be found all over the cacao growing regions of Nicaragua. These beans were selected from three isolated farms in Northern Nicaragua, with some believing these to be the genetic ancestors of modern criollo cacao. Once harvested these collective beans go through some unusual processing with Friis Holm requiring different methods in the fermentation process. This particular bar is turned twice during the fermentation process which produces a flavour significantly different from another of Friis Holm’s bars which is turned three times.
I’ve experienced the effects processing at origin can have on coffee numerous times now, noting that both simple and small changes in the processing can have a huge effect on flavour. Changing the length of ferment, the style of ferment, to what the coffee is fermented in, where and at what ambient temperature, all seem to have significant effects on how the bean develops and therefore on the final flavour of the coffee. I appreciate that chocolate is different, but the idea that processing at origin can have an effect on the flavours in chocolate is not that surprising to me. Here changing something as simple as how many times the beans are turned during fermentation is enough of an important effect on the flavour of the chocolate that you can make two distinctly different tasting bars a ‘double turned’ and a ‘triple turned’ and have people easily distinguish the difference. My hope with this bar is that the small tinkering in processing has a purpose, a purpose designed to improve the flavour of the bar, rather than just to experiment.
Opening the bar, there’s a very familiar moulding, which looks almost identical to the Chocolat Bonnat mouldings, which is not surprising given where they’re produced. There’s some quality processing hallmarks on display along with some earthy and aged aromas that seem to suggest they’ve travelled directly from the farm on which the cocoa is grown. Tasting this bar it’s challenging, complex and well dimensioned. There is a tonne of flavour with which to dissect here, made more complicated, but possibly more palatable by the high amount of cocoa butter, accounting for its ultra smooth creaminess. There’s a somewhat rustic feel about this bar, not earthy exactly but an indication that this has grown out from the earth, a sort of flavour of the land feel about it. The descriptions are somewhat abstract, but when flavour gets complicated and dimensioned simple descriptions seem to lose their general meanings and associative likenings somehow seem clearer. This is a deep ‘chocolatey’ bar offering dark tones and a complex array of nuts, savoury tones, dark sugars and waves of hot spice. There is an acidity here which is subtle, which when dark mimics raisins and when light (really light) is similar to a white melon. This bar best displays itself as a puzzle, where the reward is in the paying of attention and unlocking all the varieties of flavour hidden beneath its creamy depths, I can only with good conscience recommend the eater sit and savour this bar in an enjoyably relaxed space, that offers quiet reflection over the expressive qualities of this cacao. Trust me, wait till everyone has left the building, or be safe in the knowledge that no one is going to interrupt, before sitting to enjoy this journey of quality flavours.
Ingredients: Cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter
Colour: Medium light brown, light purpling
Texture: Very smooth with a light flake
Mould: Chocolat Bonnat Voiron – with 6×5 fingers
Snap: Very very crisp
Notes: Cigar, natural cacao, spice, ferment, cream
Quality: Deep, acidic, robust
Length: Long, firm
Evenness: Very even
Texture: Glossy, creamy, smooth
Notes: Raisin, melon
Quality: Subtle, mellow
Notes: Panela, burnt sugar
Quality: Natural, honest, ripe ferment
Type: Sweet, salt
Notes: Complex raisin, natural cocoa, toasted hazelnut, vanilla infused cream, melon, cayenne
Quality: Complex, dimensioned, characterful
Flavours take long wavy journeys before rounding off, as if embedded in cream, lasting an age
Notes: Melon, cream, cocoa, cayenne
Quality: A spike of mellow melon fruity acidity leaves a creamy handover to a dry natural cocoa flavour that lingers a little with hints of spice jumping in and out
Bar has a lot of balance due to its creamy body and heavy structure that holds bar firmly in place and keeps flavour within the round
Bar has a lot of depth, but possibly more dimension, there is a tonne of complexity here, which remains balanced under a strong and consistent structure, expression feels distinct and individual, true of origin, processing and chocolatiership
Friis Holm’s Tasting Notes: Full body, nutty, black olives, spice and complex. Very smooth finish.