Red Star broadens their offerings with chocolate made from liquor, such as this bar. Obviously, some process control and ultimate style is going to be lost, but the merits of a wider selection both in origin and flavour are worth the tradeoff. L’Artisan du Chocolat has already proven it’s possible to make superb chocolate from liquor in any case, so that’s not in any way a hindrance. This one offers an origin which will be somewhat familiar to those looking at organics but is not common outside the organic niche. No surprises, then, that the ingredients on the bar are all organic. More importantly, Red Star shows a willingness to experiment, not to be limited by pride only to making chocolate from their own beans, and the result is sure to be a positive in terms of encouraging small growers and producers in the growing countries, greater chocolate variety in the consuming countries.
Alex Rast: 25-Nov-2010
Red Star reliquishes some process control with this bar and some others made from liquor, but demonstrates almost equal command over the final result. It unquestionably captures the basic “Red Star” style, and shows a willingness not to get stuck in “categories” that hopefully we will see more of. It might be slightly less complex and interesting in flavour than some of the other bars, but not by much, and there is enough interest in here to make it a worthy extension to the line.
Out of the wrapper, the bar has a look of, perhaps, being a shade more hastily moulded than the bean-to-bar chocolates in the Red Star line, with some bubbling and unevenness present, but only just, and this could easily just be random process variation. Colour is definitely on the dark side, somewhat more worrisomely.
The aroma is startlingly reminiscent of a typical Ecuador, with blackberry and brown sugar dominating. Biscuitty and nutty hints suggest probable aggressive roasting. At the end, a suggestion of rubber and coconut indicates that on balance, these may not be the best possible beans ever, but then again, not all origins can be. Most unusually, the biscuitty note leads the flavour, and the nut component resolves itself firmly into hazelnut, but here, there is the concern that the flavour may soon fall very flat. Nonetheless, it never happens, evolving rather through a progression: currant, then earthy with a sugary hint, then very surprising olive. One can’t exactly call it the most coherent flavour presentation, but it’s interesting, it doesn’t ever become monotonous, and it’s got character.
No problems with the melt, meanwhile: the bar has a superb, ultra-creamy, smooth texture that shows continued attention to detail. It would have been easy in this bar to adopt a hastier, more compromised interpretation, but Red Star exhibits no prejudices and the flavours here are not only quite acceptable, but provide an agreeable contrast with other bars in the line. There is the sense that the choice to include chocolates from liquor is not so much a concession to practicality as it is an intent to introduce a wider spectrum of flavours into the range. Yes, there is no doubt that even more careful bean roasting could make a difference, but still this chocolate shows, if L’Artisan du Chocolat hasn’t already proven it amply, that a bar from liquor can have both individual style and uniquely worthwhile characteristics.