Review: French Broad Chocolates – Palo Blancos Community Chulucanas Peru – 81% (****)

Hidden deep within my secret stash of fine chocolates, this little beauty was waiting to be reviewed. Sadly this is the final American bar I have laying around and knowing the US artisan chocolate scene produces some of the most exciting bars, this is a sad fact.

French Broad’s chocolates have passed by on this site before. They often have a dark roasted heart with deep chocolate flavors, but French Broad succeeds to win over chocolate lovers by bringing out the taste of the used origins of cocoa in the final products.

Today we try a 81% bar made of Peruvian cocoa from the Palo Blanco Community in Chulucanas. Several chocolate makers have discovered the quality cocoa grown by this cooperative community and create great dark bodied bars with the beans.

French Broad Chocolates – Palo Blancos Community Chulucanas Peru – 81%

The traditional French Broad paper wrapper decorates the bar. Along their range, the visuals never change. There is something rather European about the styling, but it looks nice and luxurious. What sets the bars apart from origin to origin, is the colored ribbon wrapped around the aluminum foil inside. This time a vibrant purple ribbon emerges.

The bar has the typical French Broad designs. 20 small piece make a single 60 gram bar of delicious chocolate. The company based in North Carolina has every single piece scored with their name in a handwritten font. Marvelous.

Different from most bars, is the use of Panela or unrefined Peruvian brown cane sugar.

Bean: Not mentioned

Origin: Palo Blanco – Chulucanas – Perú

Production: French Broad Chocolates – Ashville, North Carolina, USA

Price: Unknown – 60 g send to me by

French Broad Chocolates – Palo Blancos Community Chulucanas Peru – 81%   French Broad Chocolates – Palo Blancos Community Chulucanas Peru – 81%

Color: A very dark ebony brown with a hint of purple

Aroma: deep and rich cacao, earthy, dry wood and warm spices

Taste: The first impression is sweetness, followed by an intense earthy and roasted coffee aroma containing tannin reminding me of higher percentage cacao, slightly drying the mouth. A subtle acidity mingles in, opening up the aroma with hints of dark berries and a dash of citrus fruit. Near the end of the melt, the earthy flavors return, concentrating on dark wood and some subtle spices, delicate vanilla and a bit of cinnamon. The aftertaste is intense. Lots of chocolate flavor and tannin-like bitterness remain present. The texture of the chocolate is a pretty coarse. Funny enough, you notice this most when biting down on the chocolate, as it melts really well. The coarse Panela or unrefined brown sugar mingled in the chocolate causes this effect, which feels a bit odd in the mouth at first. Somehow the texture fits this intense chocolate, which may startle people who are not used to tasting high percentage chocolate. But it never becomes to intense. The sugar crystals pop through the strong flavors and give it a lightness that makes the aroma evolve. The aftertaste follows the same main dark pattern with the volatile fruit flavors vaguely flowing around. This is the reason why you can always be surprised by chocolate, you never know which way the flavors will take you. The entire taste changes so much simply by changing the percentage of the bar. It is especially nice to notice the difference between this bar and the 66% version of the same origin French Broad Chocolate makes. While the 66% bar does feature some of the same base notes ( dark chocolaty, tannin and wood tones), it is also a lot warmer and more fruity tasting than the 81% version. Here the flavors concentrate on the dark earthy aromas, cocoa, wood, roasted coffee, while dark fruits temper the boldness a bit.

To be savored and enjoyed slowly – when you are a high percentage chocolate lover or want to be introduced to the bold tastes cocoa can bring!

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