How do you know a chocolate bar is good? When you put a bar on the table during a diner with friends, and by the time you turn your head again, it is all gone. Wonderful indeed, except if it happened by accident and you intended to resample the bar before writing your final review.
The above scenario happend with one of the bars the kind people of Zart Pralinen send to me. They are more than proud that they were rewarded with a silver award in the European Bars Semi Final Competition of the International Chocolate Awards in 2016. Having been a Grand Jury member for the Belgian round, I know by experience your product has to appeal to all the judges in order to be awarded.
Zart Pralinen is an Austrian micro-batch chocolate maker. The owners have a Dutch background, but moved to Austria to follow a career opportunity and finally rolled into the world of fine chocolate. Next to an array of filled chocolates, based on quality Felchlin couveture chocolate, Zart also produces their own chocolate bars – bean to bar.
It is surprising to see a artisan chocolate bar made from African cocoa. The continent produces the largest amount of cocoa in the world, but it’s nearly all used for industrial chocolate product. Quantity over quality. Yet a few growers row into the stream and try to achieve a higher cocoa quality. Zart supports Kokoa Kamili, one of those dedicated cocoa growers, by buying their cocoa beans directly. The chocolate company pays a price 24% above the fair trade level. Good for both the grower and chocolate lovers, who will be able to enjoy the wonderful flavors of an African fine cocoa.
The bar comes in the typical Zart style wrapper. White with the company logo and entwigned with a darker line design with added text, teasing you with the words Kokoa Kamili Tanzania, 70%, bean to bar, direct trade and 2015 Harvest. So much info in an elegant design. The International Chocolate awards – European competition silver award is proudly adding expectations about what is to be found inside. More info pops up when you open the wrapper. The cocoa variety with Trinitario/Criollo genetics and a more precise location on where the cocoa was grown: Mbingu village in Morogoro – Tanzania.
The chocolate bar is made with a mold we see quiet a few times when searching for chocolate bars. Finely striped square pieces for a nice rectangular bar.
Bean: Trinitario/Criollo genetics
Origin: Mbingu Village, Morogoro – Tanzania
Maker: Zart Pralinen, Austria
Price: € 4,5 – 50 g
Color: Deep ebony brown
Aroma: Earthy, chocolaty, deep and profound.
Taste: a slow, slightly dry start is followed by a massive tsunami of chocolaty notes. Next comes a refreshing fruity touch – some raspberry and red currant, cut through the thick veil of deep chocolate tones. The fruits are less abundant compared to other fruity chocolate bars, but the notes are perfect to open up the flavor experience and forms a great counterpoint to the lush cocoa and chocolate flavors. They don’t overpower nor shift the flavor balance towards the acidic. Instead, both flavor notes flow along each other and add depth to the overall aroma.
The texture is a bit thick in the mouth, a tad clingy, without being distracting. A lactic mouth feel appears near the end of the melt. The after flavor is light and has more chocolate tones in abundance and keeps flowing on the rhythm of the main flavor adding a touch of smokiness.
It is not hard to see why this bar conquered a silver medal during the International Chocolate Awards competition. It offers a well rounded flavor, rolling from chocolaty to subdued fruity. Dark hearted, yet still pretty sweet if doesn’t look to surprise those who try it, but rather seduce them with delicate flavors. But before all, it shows that Africa has more to offer than Madagascar when it comes to fine flavor cocoa. It can shine just as bright as many other renowned cocoas, especially in the hands of skilled chocolate makers such as Zart.
A job well done!