Review: Ara Chocolat – Madagascar 75% (****)

After travelling all over the world with the bars I reviewed so far, I come back to familiar terrain today. In front of me lays a small dark single origin bar stating Madagascar. My favorite origin! I simply adore wonderful fruity chocolate. But the brand is little known to me. Ara Chocolat.

Based in the department Seine-et-Marne at 20 km away from Paris, Ara Chocolat creates its special line of pralines and chocolate bars. They were so kind to send me a package of their products for review purposes. I’m more than excited to find out more about their bean-to-bar made chocolate!

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Ara Chocolat is proud of their attention to their reduced ecological impact and the use of biological cacao in order to protect the precious tropical ecosystems that give us quality cacao.

The bar is wrapped in a simple wrapper made out of recycled paper. The design of the package looks pretty tropical and certainly catches the eye. When feeling the bar itself, I feared it would be broken due to transport. Turn the bar over and you’ll find a lot of ingredient and diet information. However, little is stated about the cacao beans used or the origin of the cacao. Their website doesn’t provide any further information either. Guess we’ll have to rely on our senses solely. (edit: Ara kindly informed me on the cacao variety and a more specific origin region)

Inside, a cellophane wrapper keeps the bar protected. A big surprise came when I opened that wrapper. Not only was I greeted by a wonderful chocolate smell, but it turns out this isn’t a bar at all… It is actually 5 single pieces of chocolate wrapped together. Carefully created with a gorgeous waffle structure on top. Simply gorgious!

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But how does it taste? Only one way to find out. Let’s try it!

Bean: Trinitario

Origin: Madagascar – Sambirano Valley

Production: Ara Chocolat – France

Price: unknown – 27 g ( sample for review)

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Color: Deep dark brown, powerful looking.

Aroma: A powerful aroma giving away notes of smoked wood, spices, a slight acidity and hints of fruits.

Taste: The bar opens up with earthy notes, dried grass, wood and a dash of espresso coffee bitterness and ever so slightly sweet. Next the taste mellows down a bit as the chocolate really starts to melt, causing the typical Madagascan fruits to come forth. A warm vanilla tone carries the refreshing zing of lots of red raspberry and a touch of banana. Once the fruits arrives, the palate lightens up t0 let you enjoy the great taste, before the aftertaste kicks in. Here we find deep satisfying chocolate and wood tannins and a slight spiciness lingering for an extraordinary long time. The melt of the bar is perfect. The texture is very smooth.
This chocolate shows two distinct faces. It overpowers you at the start with its powerful dark earthy chocolate tones and masculine bitterness, before slowing down and gently caressing your palate with a refreshing fruityness. I simply adore these type of mood swings in chocolate, reminding you that you are enjoying a bar made by a passionate chocolatier with eye for detail and quality and no industrial company. You’ll never ever experience anything like this in a mass market bar. Well done Ara, well done!

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