Review: Raaka – Madagascar 75% (*** 1/2)

And there it was. A big black monolith, standing proud… in the background, the first notes of Strausses “also sprach Zarathustra” start to rumble. Who ever thinks chocolate can’t move you deeply is lying.

Today I opened up a bar of Raaka chocolate. Madagascar origin. Somia farm. A well known name – the Åkesson estate. One thing is for sure, the cocoa beans used for this chocolate are the best quality. Raaka is a totally new producer to me. I hardly ever have the opportunity to get my hands on prime examples of the renowned American bean-to-bar scene. But thanks to the wonderful Annmarie Kostyk – a Chicago based chocolate professional, I received a whole box of American bars. So this Raaka bar is the first one I sample from this new collection.

Unfortunately, the trip the box traveled took a lot of time. Nearly a month. Oh how wonderful customs and the Belgian postal services can be. So forgive me when I point out the esthetic part of the bar wasn’t top notch. But that doesn’t affect taste.

Raaka chocolate creates their bars by hand in Brooklyn, USA. Ryan Cheney, founder of Raaka got deeply touched by the flavors of raw, unroasted cocoa while visiting Asia. He translated this love into flavorful chocolate based on low temperature techniques. He hooked op with Nate Hodge, a friend keen on inspiring flavors, and together they have built out their small scale production to a team of 11 people, creating chocolate using ecological and ethical values.

Those who read follow my reviews will know that Madagascar is my favorite origin by far. I always turn to this one when I find it in the range of a chocolate maker I didn’t try before.

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The bar comes in a simple, yet artistic paper sleeve. Thick paper with a great feel, made from a recycled source. The imprint is like a modern artwork. Wild. Not giving away anything about the things to be expected. Inviting yet reserved. You simply don’t look at it as a simple piece of chocolate. Sad to see you have to tear through the label on the back, containing all the required info on the chocolate.

The bar itself. As simple as can be. Undone of any unnecessary details. A rectangular bar. Clean. Impressive. You can’t break off any pieces. It is so hard it can hardly be broken. My piece delivered a gorgeous chocolate explosion when I tried to cut of a part.

Bean: not mentionned

Origin: Somia Farm, Sambirano Valley, Madagascar

Production: Raaka Chocolate – Red Hook, Brooklyn, USA

Price:  unknown – send to me as a gift by annmariekostyk.com

 

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Color: a deep, dark brown and purple

Aroma: Green cocoa, earthy and nutty

Taste: Opening with a dash of brown sugar sweetness, followed by the slowly building aroma of raw cocoa beans and a pleasant nut flavor. The texture is slightly dry and rougher than French style chocolate due to the stone grounding used. It takes a while before the chocolate really starts to melt. But when it finally does, the earthy chestnut aroma makes room for a sweeter, bright fruitiness, reminding me of ripe plums. An orange skin bitterness hides underneath the main aromas who keep focusing on earthiness and perhaps even a dash of spices. I hardly ever bite into pieces of good chocolate, but when you do in this case, vibrant fruits pop up through the more earthy flavor and create a nice contrast. You can add a fresh zing by chewing once.

The aftertaste remains powerful and adds a coffee and tobacco flavor with dark chocolate to the aroma, while the fruits never really return.

It is quiet different from other Madagascar bars I tried so far. Perhaps a bit holding back on the fruity part and tending more toward the lovers of earthy chocolate bars, but give it time and the true Madagascan flavors are there. Personally I like a little more zing to my chocolate, but I’m definitely looking forward to trying more of Raaka’s creations.

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