Today we take a plunge in the European chocolate scene. Many nations have been represented on this site so far, yet Germany hasn’t been featured too often. Though chocolate is a big thing in the land of premium cars and large beers, it is not the country most people will think about when talking about bean-to-bar chocolate. Yet it is exactly where the bar on review today, comes from. Produced by Kilian&Close, based in Rostock – high up in the Northern part of Deutschland, on the coasts of the Baltic Sea.
Run by Iveta Kilianova & Ciarán Seán Close, Hover chocolates GmbH produces their Kilian&Close brand chocolates. The two chocolate makers want to take their product back to it’s most natural form. By focusing on high quality raw materials and mastering the bean-to-bar chocolate making process, the Kilian&Close brand offers an interesting range of both single origin bars and bars with inclusions such as coffee/walnuts/almond+raisin and many more. Ranging from 30% up to 85% cocoa percentage, it is sure almost everyone will find a bar to their liking. The use of sugar is the main point which sets the company apart from many other chocolate makers. Instead of using cane or beetroot sugar, Kilian&Close exclusively turns to coconut blossom sugar to sweeten their products. Apart from the caramel noted flavor, this sugar is far more sustainable than most other types, according the website of the company.
On the table today is a relatively sweet chocolate bar. At a mere 66%, it is a bit lower than my preferred 70%. Yet I must admit I’m extremely curious about the effect of using coconut blossom sugar on the final flavor.
The origin used here is a well know one. The Dominican Republic is featured in so many bars by so many chocolate makers. In the bean-to-bar world, it is almost difficult to miss out on it. On the other hand, the popularity of the cocoa origin tells something about the quality of the beans grown there and the flavors they yield.
Kilian&Close states the beans to be “Loma Quita Espuela”. I had never heard of this name, so a bit or research had to be done. It turned out to be a 9,247 hectare big scientific reserve on the island. On the lower parts, shaded cocoa plantations can be found, where the beans used in this bar have been grown. So it is not a bean type, yet a region.
So, without further ado, let’s dig in.
What I hold in my hand is a massive looking bar. The package is larger than a 5,9” smart phone. A brown cardboard box, with Kilian&Close’s logo printed in gold. A black label is wrapped around the box and shows the percentage, the bean origin, the chocolate intensity and an intriguing word “Feinherb”. Oh, the entire package only reveals German text. Now, I speak German quiet fluently, but I had to turn to the Internet to find a meaning for this specific word. Herb translates as tart, but the entire word seems to be used primarily in wine related articles and is referred to as half dry. So I imagine this would translate to half bitter in chocolate terms.
On the back, a short text about the ingredients: cocoa beans, coconut blossom sugar, coconut milk powder and cocoa butter, in that order. Kilian&Close states this chocolate forms a cross-over between milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Being made with coconut milk powder, the product is certified vegan.
The package opens on top and reveals a hefty chocolate bar in a cellophane wrapper. It is hard to believe is it just 80 grams. The large rectangular, thick bar is superficially scored in uneven pieces and shows the company logo in the center. The design has a minimalistic, slightly stern industrial feel to it. Yet it also has a vintage touch. Looking different from many other packages, Kilian&Close stands out from the pack. The well-thought-out design shows eye for detail. Even though the brand hasn’t been established until 2014, it still feels as if this chocolate has a history.
But how does it taste?
Bean: not mentioned
Origin: Loma Quita Espuela – Dominican Republic
Maker: Hover Chocolates GmbH, Rostock, Germany
Price: € 8,00 – 80 g
Batch: Best before 10/2019 – Batch not mentioned
Harvest: not mentioned
Color: deep red brown
Aroma: toasted bread, tobacco, promise of red fruits, earthy depth and faint coconut
Taste: Starts off surprisingly creamy in the mouth, followed by full bodied Dominican cocoa. There is an earthy edge at first – roasted cocoa nibs and ground coffee beans come to mind – but soon the flavor turns to building sweet toffee rolling over to a mixture of red and yellow fruits (ripe plum, very ripe blackberry and raspberry, yellow grapes, raisin). All carried by lush chocolate notes – slightly spicy/tobacco flavored almost. Near the end of the melt, masculine wood and tannins flicker through – fresh brewed espresso coffee with a dash of cream rushes by as well. The after flavor lets the cocoa bean shine through vibrantly. Fresh baked bread crust, toast, some woods keep rolling. Joined by the same spicy tobacco note you find in the main flavor, yet slightly more pronounced.
It is a curious piece of chocolate. The sweetness is different from any dark chocolate I know. The flavor almost tends towards milk chocolate, yet the creaminess is less clingy on the palate. The sweet, caramel tones are there – but lighter on a whole compared to a milk bar. The snap is obviously harder than a milk bar, yet the initial contact in the mouth could fool anyone into believing it is a high percentage milk chocolate.
Kilian&Close claim of a cross-over between dark and milk chocolate is not exaggerated. It features intense cocoa flavor and the right amount of creaminess to counter the intensity of the chocolate. Quiet sweet, yet not overly, this bar allows the Dominican cocoa to really push through to the palate. Remarkably, there is no definable coconut flavor present, unless perhaps at the very end of the after flavor. The bar sets itself apart from any competition and offers a flavor waltz to be discovered. Whether you like milk or dark.
Visual appeal: 4/5
Melt and mouth feel: 4/5
Flavor profile : 5/5
Overall: 22/25 (****1/2)