Chocolate Tree Ecuador El Ensueno 55% Dark Milk 89/100

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This bar is made with fine flavour Arriba cacao beans from Ecuador grown on the El Ensueno farm. Once harvested these beans are shipped to Haddington just east of Edinburgh to Chocolate Tree’s factory where husband and wife team Alastair & Friederike Gower turn these beans into one of Chocolate Tree’s chocolate bars.

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Ecuador seems to have these refined but simple chocolate flavours, almost ideal for making dark milk bars. There’s not an awkward interplay of acidity and dairy, instead theres a development of sweet notes that balance with the milks creaminess. My hope is that this bar offers some more chocolatey but refined flavours to combine with the milk. This bar is both a great dark milk bar of chocolate and a terrible dark milk bar of chocolate. It’s as if the cocoa was in no way ever meant to be placed in milk and yet at the same time offers us a glimpse into the potential flavours of a dark milk bar. On the one hand this bar is erratic, unstable and wild and on the other it is complex, dimensioned and always developing in a pleasurable direction. The bar reminds me a lot of dessert flavours, chocolates, caramels, butters and smatterings of sweet alcohols and fruits, it reflects richness and indulgence, the feeling that you’re doing damage to your waistline by eating it. Desserts might be palatable, but this bar also remains difficult, its challenging and complex and not the simple play of sweet caramels and cocoa in your usual dark milks, this is a minor offense on the senses, throwing a wealth of flavours at you from sweet to bitter to savoury, from fruit, to sugars, nuts, alcohols and earthy fungi. It’s hard to describe this bar, it feels like a dark milk trying to decry classification, all I know is that it is an intensely interesting journey of flavour and experience. Not for the faint hearted this one, this is a bar for when you’re feeling like a bit of a challenge.

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

Appearance 9/10

Colour: Medium/light, lightly purpled brown
Texture: Granite (very even coarseness)
Mould:
Chocolate Tree flower print uneven blocks
Snap: Click snap
Temp/Shine: Glossy

Aroma 9/10

Intensity(0-10): 7
Notes: Sweet balsamic, hazelnuts, sherry, caramel, truffle
Quality: Dimensioned, complex

Melt/Mouthfeel 8.5/10

Length: Medium, soft
Evenness: Quickening melt, due to soft structure
Texture: Buttery, buttercream
Quality: Confectionary, full, big

Acidity 8/10

Intensity(0-10): 3
Notes: Sherry, raspberry, red grape
Quality: Short, early, balancing

Sweetness 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 9
Notes: Butter caramel, butterscotch, caramelised sugar
Quality: Confectionary, rich, developed

Flavour 9.5/10

Intensity(0-10): 8.5
Type: Sweet, bitter, salt
Notes: Tart raspberries, sweet red grapes, apple brandy, brandy snap, butterscotch, butter caramel, creamy mushroom
Quality: Developing, distinctive, complicated

Length 9/10

Flavours are deep, bold and long, acidity lacks roundedness, but other attributes make interesting long journeys over the melt

Finish 8.5/10

Notes: Butterscotch, salted caramel, malted milk
Quality: Bar finishes with butterscotch, which moves to salted caramel, before a stint as malted milk, fading slowly away

Balance 9/10

Bar is wild and unstable and yet at the same time feels balanced, like there’s an intelligence behind its erratic nature, structure is fairly weak resolving itself in ever changing development and instability

Overall 9/10

This bar has tonnes of depth, there is also a great degree of dimension, flavours are erratic but develop complexity and variance over the melt, structure is uniformly weak and expression is unusual and complicated


Tasting Notes: A dark milk chocolate made from the Sabor Arriba (higher flavour) cacao of farm ‘El Ensueno’ or ‘The Dream’

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