It is a difficult time for everybody. Our world is in a deep crisis. It is hard for people to get together, everybody is constantly on high alert about their health and traveling is nearly impossible as Covid keeps causing havoc around the globe.
Luckily we can still turn to things that make us feel better, or even happy. Origin chocolate, if well done, certainly can trigger all sorts of happy feelings inside of you. It makes your taste buds sing, makes your heart skip a beat and can take you places without stepping outside.
So let us do exactly that. Today we travel to inspiring India – in the shape of a chocolate bar.
Mike & Becky still holds a warm spot in my heart. Björn Becker and Julia Mikerova have founded their chocolate company in the capital of Belgium some years ago and keep building their dream. Step by step, their once micro batch production keeps growing and they are now stepping up their game with a new production atelier.
From the moment I met them, Björn and Julia have been a constant source of information, inspiration and friendship to me. So with pleasure, I will discover their new India bar, together with you.
India is still hot as a chocolate origin. As unlikely as it sounds, India is producing marvelous cocoa beans. Cocoa has been grown in India since the 19th century and evolved over time into a crop under influence of major industrial chocolate makers. But recently, part of the sector has started to move away from big yield generic cocoa variation, to more exciting fine flavor cocoas. One particular company, Go Ground Beans & Spices, run by the Italian Luca Beltrami and his Belgian wife Ellen Taerwe. In the bean to bar world, they are rising stars, running a post-harvest processing plant in Kerala – offering stunning quality cocoa to chocolate makers.
Mike & Becky have worked with their beans before – their 70% India bar was featured on this site before. (Review: Mike & Becky – India 70%)
But today, we look at the Fruity Kerala – Light roast version. The roasting of cocoa is a major flavor defining step in chocolate making. Here the natural acidic flavors of the raw beans are transformed into the wonderful chocolate notes we love so much. The skilled hand of the chocolate makers chooses where to go from here. Light roast will keep many of the wonderful fruity flavors the beans have locked inside them. But you want all the unwanted flavors to be gone and you still want some body to the final chocolate. It will be interesting to see how this bar differs from the normal version.
The bar is wrapped in the typical Mike & Becky cardboard sleeve. It shows the same elephant figures and green design as the regular version. But the text is at the top of the package, unlike on the bottom on the standard roast bar.
It features all the required information: ingredients, origin, percentage and short info on bean to bar chocolate and chocolate tasting.
Inside the sleeve, a cellophane blister protects the gorgeous chocolate bar. I’ve seen it so many times by now, but still I’m mesmerized by the 3D feel and look of the chocolate squares.
Bean: Forastero/Trinitario, Mankuva variety, intercropped with fruits and spices
Origin: Kerala – India (Post-harvest center Go Ground, Bharath Gas Udumbannoor)
Maker: Mike & Becky, Belgium
Ingredients: organic cocoa beans, organic beet sugar, organic cocoa butter (6%)
Price: € 6,5 – 65g – Hilde Devolder, Ghent – Belgium
Batch: 528 – best before 03/2021
Color: Dark, dark dark brown with a slight purple hint.
Aroma: Tobacco, spices, wood, roasted cocoa
Taste: Slow starting as the chocolate as it resists to melt at first. Once the melt starts, slight earthy woody notes appear before the flavor starts breaking open with roasted hazelnuts, followed by lingering yellow fruits (golden raisins, ripe tropical fruits). Honey, roasted bread and gingerbread pour in, followed by rising woody tannins. But they subdue again soon. While melting, the chocolate releases fresh dashes of fruits, popping through the sweeter main flavor, keeping it lively and fresh. The after flavor isn’t overpowering but has a great length and is very chocolaty in nature, while roasted nuts and the woody elements keep lingering.
The texture of the chocolate seems a bit different from what I’m used to. It’s less silky and melting takes a lot more time. As I wondered if there was less added cocoa butter used than in a regular bar, the package revealed that the chocolate has only 6% of added cocoa butter. Now, most producers don’t reveal the percentage of cocoa butter used, but this seems on the low side. Which means Mike & Becky offer you way more cocoa solids and thus flavor containing particles. But this also means they compromise a bit on mouth feel and texture. But hey, give me a slow melting, flavor packed chocolate over a bland tasting, silky textured one any day!
Now, comparing to the regular version I tried in 2018, this bar seems to offer different fruits (rather yellow than blueberry/green banana). The lighter roast definitely has less chocolaty flavors and more earthy/woody notes – next to the fruits. This would make sense, as the roasting does introduce the well known chocolate notes in cocoa. The darker the roast, the more chocolaty the final product becomes. But here, the lighter roast leaves more room for the more delicate flavors to shine.
Hmmm, perhaps I should do a follow up where I compare both bars side by side. A thought for future plans.
Visual appeal: 4/5
Melt and mouth feel: 3/5
Flavor profile : 4/5
Overall: 19/25 (****)