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December 29, 2010

Amano chocolates collection

Well moulded, capped off smoothly on the bottoms

Firm ganache

Local cream, enrobing matches filling

Dos Rios Palet D’Or

About 5 seconds in the full flavour of Amano’s Dos Rios hits the tongue, delicate rose water, lavender, a hint of mint, then the cream comes in, warming up the flavours with a dusty chocolate effect while hitting some top notes of lime. The ending is delicate tea – less tannic than in the bar, followed by a hint of salt.

I’ve always been a fan of Dos Rios (having had some involvement in its origin), but have found it be more of an ‘interesting’ chocolate rather than a bar to sit down and eat. I suspected though that the strength of Dos Rios would really show when it’s worked with, and this ganache really proves that.

Or put more simply, I could happily eat a box of these!

Guayas Palet D’Or

On first smelling the palet, there’s a chocolatey, ginger aroma. When cut, a more delicate cream cheese comes out.

On biting, a pleasant crunch from the shell combines well with the ganache – which as mentioned before is not at all runny.

The flavour is quite strong, with spicy raisin flavour, running into honey and cream and getting more delicate as we go – back to biscuit and ginger towards the end, with a warm spicy after-taste. After eating, the feeling is of having had a well made hot chocolate.

A nice journey and quite satisfying. This one went down very well.

Ocumare Palet D’Or

It’s not that often that the aroma of a bonbon is a significant factor, but as the featured origin palets are also enrobed in the chosen chocolate, then sniffing the bonbon is just as relevant as when trying a bar. In this case, it’s strong, full, wood, current, a little spice and tobacco and dark fruits – all the elements we’d expect from a chocolate made with Ocumare cacao.

The mould is a ‘double reverse wedge’ shape, so splitting the chocolate in half with a knife gives you two nicely shareable pieces. More fruit comes out of the aroma of the ganache, a little more of a fermented head.

Once on the tongue, the flavour simply pours out, like an Islay whisky, peaty and toppy, until the cream kicks in and we’re into a pleasant black forest gateau – full forest fruits and cream.

The after flavour is very correct – chocolate and fruit, no deviations. Actually makes you want to sit and enjoy even just a small piece for several minutes.

Not sure if there’s something genetic here, but Ocumare always makes me happy. This ganache does it in spades. Eat it slow for maximum effect!

(A side note here – eat chocolate too fast, and it will generally seem more tannic if it is a tannic bean. This is something we’ve discovered from our ‘melt or munch’ test, as featured in our workshops. Let this ganache melt slowly and you will be rewarded with a creamy chocolate fruit hit at the end. Go too fast, and while it will still be good, it will appear tannic at the end. Definitely ‘melt only’ for Ocumare!)

Yemeni Sidr Honey with Guayas chocolate

This honey ganache comes in a lightly sprayed polygonal mould. Inside is a light ganache combined with one of the world’s most expensive honeys. (Not even sure it can be bought in the UK, but would fetch about £130/kilo!)

On cutting, there’s a good, sweet spice golden treacle aroma. Floral honey is a typical note of Nacional – the heritage Ecuador cacao variety, so Guayas makes an interesting base that should support and emphasise the honey.

The first taste is dominated by the chocolate. The honey is rather delicate at the beginning, combining with the chocolate to create some spice, then rising in a gentle golden syrup note, which takes over the palate but is never strident.

The flavour is beautiful and long lasting, the chocolate ultimately acting as a great carrier for the honey. This is honey at its best, without being too sweet or too overpowering.

Key Lime with Guayas chocolate

One of the most striking in appearance of the Amano collection, sprayed in green and dashed in white. This really says ‘lime’, but personally I’m not keen on food colourings used in chocolates – perhaps a necessary evil to attract attention, but when you already have the best of ingredients, flavour should be enough.

Even the uncut chocolate has a lime note, which is pungent and stronger when cut. The flavour is violet/lime cream, with the bitterness expected from key limes coming at the end with a creamy pudding end.

If you like key limes, this will surely appeal, but personally I’m a fan of the green Persian type that has a citrus zing and makes a great mojito.

Yuzu white chocolate ganache

This is a first – white chocolate made by Amano, never before tasted as it’s not something they produce as a retail bar. (Made though with bought-in cocoa butter, as is the case with almost all chocolate makers, though perhaps this might change in the future.)

Fans of William Curley in the UK will be familiar with this Japanese citrus, yuzu, which has a delicate flavour somewhat like grapefruit, but more intense and without the bitterness.

Trying the chocolate, the aroma comes mostly from the milk powder in the white chocolate, with only a hint of the yuzu.

On tasting, the ganache does not feel too sweet, considering it’s made with white chocolate. At first the creamy white milk really dominates, but just when you think the yuzu will only remain a faint background note, it springs through and gradually rises, dominating by the end. The finish is a really fresh, bursting but subtle citrus with spice and apricot hints. A surprisingly light success for a recipe that could have been cloyingly sweet. Not unlike a whipped dessert.

Raspberry ganache with Guayas chocolate

The Californian raspberry ganache is merely enrobed in white chocolate, and beautifully sprayed with a red top. The ganache is again Guayas – the origin of choice it seems for ganaches in the Amano collection.

The aroma is sweet raspberry milk chocolate, suggesting something mild and sweet. A few moments in though, there’s an almost shocking hit of pure raspberry, which quickly turns into the exact flavour of a good vanilla ice cream dribbled with a raspberry coulis sauce – an impressive effect!

The after taste is to die for and carries on forever. Forget eating a tub of Häagen-Dazs, just eat half of one of these!

Cinnamon Ganache with candied pecans

The candied pecans in this case are on the top of the palet and are rather excellent, but you need to make sure you get some of these when you bite into the ganache, to get the full effect of the combination.

The ganache itself is a good, clean, cinnamon with cream coming towards the end. Worthy, but no fireworks on its own. With the crunch and flavour of the pecans though, the experience is very moreish, not too sweet and creating something of an upmarket candy bar feel. After taste is long-lasting and appropriately chocolate and nut. Does what it says on the label, and does it very well.

Cardamon and pepper ganache with Dos Rios chocolate

Dos Rios is a very distinctively flavoured chocolate in its own right – orange flower water, lavender, rose, green tea are just some of the typical notes.

That’s an interesting, yet challenging starting point for a flavoured ganache. Fruit flavours are likely to get lost or confused with the natural notes of the chocolate. Something in opposition and complimentary is required. Spices like cardamom and pepper seem a pretty good choice.

The aroma is surprisingly cheesy, with just a little orange. This is all the more of a surprise as there’s no cheese hint once you taste the chocolate. The flavour, which is overwhelmingly the Dos Rios notes, with the spices kicking subtly in after a few seconds.

This is pretty much a Dos Rios ganache ‘plus’. The cardamom and pepper adding just a touch of complexity and drying out the fruitiness a little. Equally as enjoyable as the plain version, this is perhaps a little more approachable and balanced than the more exotic unflavoured Dos Rios, unlikely as that sounds.

Tangerine ganache with Ocumare milk chocolate

For the only milk chocolate based ganache of the collection, the aroma of the uncut chocolate is actually quite spicy with no hint of sweetness. When cut we get warm tangerine and milk chocolate, which floods the mouth with flavour on eating.

As well as the tangerine, there’s a wine or whisky note going on, generated I would say by the fruit interacting with the milk and those spicy Ocumare beans.

If you had to use one (or two) words to sum up this collection, it would be after-taste. The length is generally fantastic – clean and pure, maintaining the flavour notes found during eating. This is particularly true of the Dos Rio Palate d’Or, the Yemeni Sidr honey and the Raspberry ganache.

and just goes to show that ingredient selection (chocolate






 
 

 
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