Having achieved spectacular success in mild milk chocolates with the Ocumare, Amano this time stumbles equally spectacularly with a chocolate that just never gets going. With a taste that hovers barely on the edge of perceptibility (which, it must be admitted, is the norm for 30%) Amano shows why greater percentages in milk chocolate are usually desirable. Here is a demonstration of how even the most careful processing isn’t always enough when the formulation is ill-matched. Could be interesting if the percentage were improved, but as it is it doesn’t generate much excitement.
Alex Rast: 18-Jul-2009
Out of the box, Amano’s bar looks very impressive: dark brown entirely unlike most chocolates at this percentage, flecked with even darker brown notes, and with a good finish with no bubbling or rippling. The aroma is even more impressive, reminiscent of Cluizel’s Mangaro, dark, with woody and cocoa prominent along with molasses and hints of beef bouillon. An interesting nutty whiff at the end sets anticipation to the maximum for what appears certain to be a winner.
But then, the sure winner trips and falls flat on its face. The collapse is so inelegant that one really wonders what happened. A brief hint of strawberry almost immediately gives way to creamy and vanilla, mixed with caramel. The taste is in fact reminiscent of many high street chocolate bars, with a disturbing cardboardy hint to further complete the ignominious defeat. At the end a last-gasp attempt at flavour tries to rescue things with nuts and honey, but it’s too little, too late. The flavour just never arrives.
Texture, as well, is a fumble, decidedly waxy and rather coarse, as if one were eating a simulation of chocolate rather than the real thing. However, this also points squarely at the problem: not enough defatted cocoa solids, too much cocoa butter. It’s difficult enough at 30% to make much of an impression but this bar seems skewed entirely towards cocoa butter and the results are dramatic. It’s truly unfortunate, for in the dark version Amano shows that they can do great things with the bean, and with the Ocumare milk that they are likewise capable of near-miracles with low-percentage milk chocolate. Here, however, the formulation needs a complete rethink and increase in percentage, along with a systematic reduction in cocoa butter. As it is it doesn’t do justice to Amano’s otherwise exemplary reputation.