Askinosie Chocolate: The “Del Tambo” Bar

I’ve now had a chance to test both of Askinosie Chocolate’s bars: the Del Tambo, made from Ecudorian cacao, and the Soconusco, made from Mexican cacao. I only sneaked a nibble of the Soconusco, but have now had a chance to spend some time tasting the Del Tambo alone and in constrast to some other chocolate. Ecuadorian cacao has a bold, very distinct fruity and herbaceous flavor note that hits very quickly, which makes it a dramatic counterpart to the Soconusco bar which is a much more subtle bar which has a flavor profile that starts slowly and builds over time. (The Ecuadorian cacao trade association maintains a very informative site about their product here. Ecuador has had a mixed history with growing cacao, after being devastated by a tree-killing disease in the 1920s.) The Del Tambo bar is the boldest expression of that taste that I’ve found. To my tastebuds, the closest comparison is some Madagascar chocolate, like Valrhona’s Manjari, which shares the quality of having a strong initial taste that changes as the chocolate melts.

The strong initial taste hit from the chocolate is full of plum, maple, and grassy notes and may register as very “unchocolately” to tasters used to tamer chocolate that has it’s initial notes suppressed by intense processing. The sweet aromatic notes transition to a wheaty, toasty middle, which resolves nicely to a finish that is strongly chocolate with a surprisingly floral nose. It’s a very dramatic bar, and packed full of flavors that typical chocolate doesn’t even hint at. As Askinosie is a definite startup, this chocolate can be hard to come by. It can be ordered from the website, and I know some specialty retailers are looking at stocking it. I’ll have a longer review of the Soconusco bar up soon. This bar is especially interesting. Mexico is, in some ways, the ancestral home of cacao cultivation, but in modern times, it is not thought of as an origin for fine cacao. Has Askinosie found a way to bring this heritage back?

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4 Responses to Askinosie Chocolate: The “Del Tambo” Bar

  1. I love his chocolate, but I wasn’t able to pin down the exact flavors because it was so different. Thanks for sharing your tasting notes!

  2. I met the owner at a supermarket yesterday and tried his chocolate. I was very put off by all the hoopla he’s surrounded his product with: lots of protestations about sharing with the farmers; elaborate yet “natural” wrapping, logos and lot numbers everywhere, etc. This is all good stuff, it’s just an overabundance that screams, “You’re a Baby Boomer with disposable income! I’m going to seduce you with information!” Nonetheless, to my untrained palate… This is some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I wonder if he’s charging too much. In the store it was $6 for 3.5 ounces, which I thought was expensive. On another chocolate site, it can be had for $7.50! Am I wrong? Is this just too much for chocolate?

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  3. tspyz says:

    While $6 or $7.50 may seem like a lot for a chocolate bar (and there are many chocolate bars that are significantly more expensive.), keep in mind that artisan chocolate makers are operating in a very different world than a bulk candy maker. They are buying cacao beans that are anywhere from 4 to 20 times more expensive than the commodity beans that go into a cheaper bar. An artisan maker like Askinosie is also typically spending anywhere from a few months to a few years to develop and refine the formula for a bar, and using a labor intensive process to make it. Just as example, a bulk chocolate may have it’s flavors developed in a “turbo conche” that takes about 4 hours. An artisan maker may be conching chocolate for upwards of 72 hours. It’s a painstaking process, and once you’ve seen the work that goes into a bar like this, it seems like a huge bargain.

  4. Steven says:

    Does anybody know where to find more info on their packaging?

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