A first-rate semisweet, unusual as a single-origin. Among the best of El Rey’s offerings and a good introduction to single-origin chocolate for those who find strong bittersweet bars to be too much to handle. For people used to 70%-class bittersweets, this bar may seem mild and overly sweet, but it reveals itself as a bar that proves sweetness need not be fatal, as long as the chocolate itself has been produced with sensitivity.
Alex Rast: 14-Oct-2005
This bar clearly looks different from the more common bittersweet bars, with its greyer colour – not at all sugar-bloomed but definitely not the glossy, very saturated brown of a bittersweet. With the higher sugar it has a flat surface finish. In any case El Rey doesn’t hew to the more stringent finish standards of some of the elite European chocolate manufacturers and so the bar is somewhat irregular, with some clear rippling and also a bit of bubbling.
The aroma definitely has a sugary cast, to some degree the result of sugar as such but in addition a more muted version of the kind of tropical, fruity smell of Carenero, reminiscent in this case of a light brown sugar. There are also slight coffee notes which harmonise very well with the sugar tone. The flavour is very rich, earthy like most of the El Rey line, with that signature tropical flavour of Carenero. It’s quite sweet, but not in a way that’s distracting or that takes away from the flavour experience. The flavour does dissipate a little faster than some chocolates, and this might be as much a plus as a minus so that there isn’t a lingering sugary taste in the mouth.
Like any semisweet, texture inevitably suffers compared to a high-percentage bittersweet – it’s a little fudgy, with smoothness that is merely average. With the lower cocoa butter, it also has a somewhat dry mouthfeel, so that texture isn’t really its strong suit, not that this is really El Rey’s strong suit in any case. What it does have is a flavour that really shines through over and above any shortcomings, more well-balanced than El Rey’s bittersweet chocolates, and more ultimately satisfying.