At a hefty 70%, Slitti’s darkest milk chocolate is an enticing exploration and ultimate test of just how far this high percentage milk chocolate trend can go. With essentially nothing to lose, Slitti succeeds and creates a bar whose flavor far outweighs any novelty value it holds.
Alex Rast: 15-Nov-2007
Is it milk or dark? That question will dominate any tasting of this bar, as indeed it does right through the wrapper where it visually looks much more like a dark chocolate than a milk one, deep brown-red and very appealing. Finish is excellent, right up with Slitti’s normal professionalism, and one could be forgiven for assuming this was a first-rate dark chocolate at a glance.
The aroma is instantly recognisable and distinctive, starting out with cherry, but with woody underpinnings and a coconut hint, all of which are almost certain indications of a Sao Tome origin – a clever choice for a milk chocolate inasmuch as perhaps the milk will kill the one problem with Sao Tomes in general: bitter finish. It’s important, though, to emphasize how much this aroma is so much more like a dark than a milk chocolate; there’s none of the typical milky background (and this is a good thing).
Flavour confirms almost comprehensively that this is a Sao Tome. It starts out with a strong strawberry burst, then proceeds to fine hazelnut. Unfortunately, the milk can’t quite entirely kill the bitterness: there is a noticeable flat bitter coconut/cocoa finish here, but it’s been strongly suppressed, so that it doesn’t shout but simply grumbles a bit. Like the aroma again, little here gives any instant milk chocolate hints, and it seems like a bar more designed to be a dark chocolate tweaked stylistically with milk than a milk chocolate. A fascinating interpretation no doubt.
Texture is far above average, extremely smooth and very creamy, although there are milk chocolates with better melt, for example Cluizel’s Mangaro. Flavour-wise, though, it’s almost apples-and-oranges comparing the 2 bars: where Mangaro might be thought of as the attempt to produce the perfectly balanced milk chocolate that is still recognisably a milk chocolate, Lattenero 70% feels more like an attempt to push the category as far as one can before it’s just a dark chocolate. If the bean, as it seems, is a Sao Tome, though, Slitti has found a great idea to reinterpret the origin: delivering it as a high-intensity milk chocolate is just the ticket to mollify Sao Tome’s more aggressive elements. Whatever the origin, this is certainly the best of Slitti’s milk chocolate range, a daring exploration of the limits of a class.
Hans-Peter Rot: 7-Nov-2007
Slitti apparently has no problem at making his bars look immaculate. This one is as smooth and glossy as a bar can get, devoid of any manufacturer defect imaginable. The color, though, is forbiddingly dark and evocative of black coal rather than chocolate, but nonetheless, the aroma emanating from it is far more beautiful. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s very deep and coffee-like, suggestive of dark things to come, but grapes and coconut lighten the load, while woody spice sits high as well. With no real low points present, however, every note seems like an alpha male clamoring for attention, but it remains pleasing and balanced, just presented at a high volume.
And this is more or less how the flavor is composed. Dark wood, coconut, and spice all unload in surges, then calm down moderately for a creaminess of flavor that contributes somewhat of a refined edge to an otherwise loud flavor. All this happens quickly, though, and just when it seems the chocolate has extended itself, grapes then enter, evolving into melons with a minor acidity and slight bitterness that never offends as much as it complements. Like the Lattenero 51%, the chocolate simply gets better the more it melts, but here both complexity and intensity are where this chocolate excels.
If, with flavor, Slitti hit the nail right on the head, he missed far and wide with texture. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decidedly fudge-like despite the high cocoa solids, showing that even a minimal amount of milk can cause damage. The strongest of the Lattenero range, the bar is indeed a dark exposÃƒÂ© of high percentage milk chocolate, but with its primary emphasis on cacao rather than a balance between it and milk, is the bar perhaps too dark to be classified as a milk chocolate? Who cares! Slitti is doing remarkable things with this Lattenero line, and at 70% this bar has much more to offer than its novelty value. The impact of the milk solids far outweighs its material weight, softening both flavor and texture but rounding out the former. In some ways it resembles an Indonesian bar from Pralus minus the smoke, so dramatic and austere the flavor is but also reasonably controlled and highly unique overall.