My first Making the Bar post told the story of the Honduras Wampusirpi 100% bar--an unplanned bar that came together quickly, almost as if fate were behind it. The story of my latest bar, made with cacao from the Anamalai farm in India, could not be more different.
Even though I knew exactly what I wanted from this bar, it has taken the better part of 2017--about nine months--to make it happen. Why so long? Because I was looking for a very specific type of flavor profile--a profile that offered a series of big flavor notes in distinct succession. It turns out that while there is an abundance of excellent cacao available to chocolate makers, cacao that can make chocolate with this particular type of flavor profile is a relatively rare find.
I had already found one such origin--a Venezuelan varietal called Guasare, produced by Cacao Marquez. I will never forget the Guasare test batch I made in the summer of 2016; it had an almost overpowering aroma of butter and, as it melted, neatly transitioned from citrus and berries to butter to a hazelnut finish. It was love at first taste, and the Guasare bar became part of my lineup from fall 2016 into spring 2017. But by early 2017 I was out of the cacao I needed to make it and had no clear prospects of getting more. The quest to find a comparable replacement is what led to the new Anamalai bar.
By the time I found a worthy replacement in the Anamalai cacao, I'd considered 16 origins, brought in samples of 9 of these 16 origins through 3 different suppliers, and made and evaluated 21 test batches, all over a span of 6 months. If you have ever wondered what makes craft chocolate different, or why it is more expensive, that's one reason--it starts with a vision, and it can take a huge amount of time and effort to bring that vision to life.
Continue to Part 2, where I'll explain the sourcing process for a small craft chocolate maker.