Benns Chocolate is a brand I discovered during the Chocoa Event in Amsterdam earlier this year. Their booth seems very similar to all the others, but what they had on display is where they made a difference. Even after a full day of sampling chocolate and having a tired palate, their chocolate twinkled on the tongue. There was no doubt in my mind, I needed to bring some of their products back home for a closer look.
So today I’m pleased to introduce their India bar.
Benns Chocolate, based in Malaysia – focuses on Asian cocoa. Working directly with the farmers and cutting out the middle men is important to them. This allows Benns Chocolate to help the farmers to a better life and ensure the company can obtain the highest quality of cocoa beans to make their chocolate. Which is definitely a big plus for us, the end customer.
Back in Malaysia, the beans are transformed to chocolate by roasting, cracking, grinding conching and tempering and allow us to discover the amazing flavors Asia cocoa has to offer. We all know about Vietnam as an origin by now, but the Philippines, India, Malaysia and Thailand are relatively new origins to the bean-to-bar chocolate world. Yet they become popular fast with artisan chocolate makers. India can be considered as the fastest growing origin in chocolate, so it forms the perfect starting point in our discovery of Benns Chocolate.
Immediately, Benns know how to set themselves apart from other chocolate makers. The package looks great. Soft pink blue colors show a flowing hill contour with two elephants. Simple yet stunning, it takes yo right at the origin you are about to experience. India. The company name, origin and percentage are displayed on the front. Flipped over, the sleeve shows an envelope design. Here you find info on the plantation where the cocoa was harvested. That is right, this is a single estate chocolate. Grown by Mr. Harish Manoj Kumar, who runs a 12 year old plantation at the foothills of Anaimalai – Elephant Mountains in Southern India. As a winner of the Cocoa of Excellence program in 2017, the plantation offers high quality cocoa.
On the side of the package, more info. The harvest year: 2018, roast: low, conche: 36 hours and bean variety: Trinitario. I love such details. It gives more of a ground to compare this chocolate with other bars and shows the dedication of the chocolate maker in informing the client on what makes this bar different from industrial chocolate.
Inside, a gold foil protects a light brown colored bar. The design of the mold looks simple yet the details of the chocolate pieces which resemble tiles with interlocking stripes, add to an Asian feel. There are slight imperfections, such as air bubbles on the surface, but I’m not picky on these things. For me, a chocolate bar could be even a solid undecorated slab, if the flavor is stunning.
Did I mention the smell of this chocolate is enticing?
Back to the package, my eye fell on the ingredients: Cocoa nibs, cocoa butter and unrefined cane sugar. I doesn’t get any purer than this folks.
Origin: Anaimalai Hills, India
Maker: Benns Chocolate Factory Sdn Bhd, Selangor, Malaysia
Price: $ 6,00 – 32 g
Batch: Best before 13/08/2020 – Batch 19P07SP25
Conche time: 32 hours
Color: A lighter, almost milk chocolate brown
Aroma: toasted bread, freshly roasted nuts, some tobacco
Taste: Starts of chocolaty with a dash of caramel, before the flavor of clear golden, sun dried raisins rolls in. There is a dash of coffee present, before a more nutty flavor pops up. Cashew and Macadamia nuts jump to mind. The chocolate remains quiet sweet in nature as the raising driven flavor keeps flowing. There is a dash of honey present in the back. Underneath, a base tone of roasted cocoa beans rolls on and near the end of the melt the nuts return in full force, before wine like tannins kick in. The after flavor is light, slightly dry and playful, feeling more chocolaty in nature, but the raisins don’t disappear and remain volatile in the mouth. I’m surprised by exactly how crystal clear the flavors are here. Many times, chocolate flavor notes seem to be ambiguous and open for interpretation. Yet here, they are without discussion detectable and recognizable. You don’t even need to try several pieces to home in on what you experience.
This is the kind of chocolate which will lighten your mood on a dull grey day or make you feel like strolling the Southern Indian country side hills, while the sun warms your body. A very pleasing experience.
Just one complaint. 32 g is to small… The bar is gone far to quickly! Next time I will need to buy more.
Visual appeal: 3/5
Melt and mouth feel: 4/5
Flavor profile : 4/5
Overall: 20/25 (****)