This bar might be more about the inclusion than it is about the origin of the cocoa beans, using Tanzanian beans from Kilombero to provide the base for Lithuanian Porcini mushrooms, Naïve chocolate’s home and origin. An excerpt from Naïve’s packaging – Lithuanians love their mushrooms, that is a fact. Each September, mushroom-hungry folks return to their super secret spots where all the best ones grow. And if you know the place, you keep it to yourself – this is the number one rule of mushroom picking. The second rule – do not pick the mushroom with the red and white spotted cap. First thing in the morning, mushroom pickers comb the forest and start collecting the first loot of chanterelles, birch boletes, slippery jacks and even cranberries. Step by step they move through the dense branches and swampy moss deep into the woods. Leave nothing to others – that is the true spirit of mushroom picking! And if you follow all these rules you might be lucky enough to find the King – the beautiful porcini mushroom! Just be sure to camouflage the place as you will have just found a super secret spot. Once these ingredients have been harvested they are taken to Naïve’s chocolate factory on the outskirts of Vilnius where Domantas Užpalis turns them into one of Naïve’s chocolate bars.
I’ve tried some Tanzanian chocolate more recently – I’ve also been known to enjoy a spot of foraging, especially for mushrooms – and I get the impression that it contains some citrus flavours, but it’s in an unusual position here where it’s collaborating with not only the strong flavour porcini, but also with milk. This is essentially a dark milk inclusion bar, which makes it a little hard to place. I would expect there to be some rich sugars here, caramel maybe due to the milk element, with porcini mushroom flavours, but I’m not sure how this is going to marry up with the cocoa exactly. Opening the bar it begins with one of Naïve’s pretty embossed slabs and you barely need to break off a piece before the strong aroma of Porcini wafts up from the bar. The mouthfeel isn’t perfect, it’s a really pleasurable texture, but the addition of milk has shortened the melt and the addition of cocoa butter has softened the chocolate. From there though it’s a torrent of simply defined flavour. There’s not a lot of complexity here, but there is the strong honest quality flavour of porcini mushrooms and it marries so well with Tanzanian dark milk chocolate, this tastes more like an infusion than an inclusion, with the flavour combination being pretty seamless. A bold length and some smooth balance help to make the experience even more pleasurable and I’m left reconsidering my cynicism over a dark milk inclusion. In the end you’re left luxuriating in the flavour of Porcini mushrooms and the bar ends up as a showcase for the inclusion, but one that marries with the attributes of a dark milk chocolate. This is more of a culinary exploration than it is one of chocolate, that being said it’s a very inviting and enjoyable exploration. If you like Porcini then this is an excellent bar, if you don’t well you must be mad.
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, pure cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, freeze dried porcini mushrooms (4%), sunflower lecithin
Colour: Medium brown
Texture: Smooth, light sandy/milkyness
Mould: Embossed Naïve unicycle slab
Temp/Shine: Very consistent matte
Notes: Strong porcini, milk chocolate
Quality: Honest, sweet
Length: Medium, soft
Evenness: Fairly even
Texture: Caramel toffee, soft butter
Quality: Rich, rounded
Notes: Toffee, caramel
Notes: Toffee, mushroom(porcini), forest, caramel, cream
Quality: Distinctive, deep, honest
Flavours are bold and long with a beautiful round
Notes: Mushrooms, wood, cocoa
Quality: Peaks of porcini flavour subside and leave a savoury cocoa flavour, like a mushroom and chocolate risotto
Smooth nature of the bar provides a lot of balance, even with strong flavour and sweetness fighting for dominance, medium structure provides both anchoring and freedom
Bar has a lot of depth and a decent amount of dimension, bar is simple but honest and structure is fairly consistent, expression is true of inclusion with processing creating a cocoa base complementary to the inclusion
Naïve’s Tasting Notes: This chocolate made for true flavour adventurers. Wild porcini mushrooms paired with high quality Tanzanian cocoa. Nutty, woody but with an extremely beautiful finish – this chocolate is truly the rule breaker.