September 17, 2011

Dandelion – Costa Rica

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Written by: Alex Rast

A strong offering from Dandelion, the near-equal of their superb Madagascar and proving that this is one manufacturer committed to doing the job right from the outset in quality chocolate. With similarities to Domori’s Puertomar, its flavour provides interesting contrasts between fruits and spices. A few finish questions show that while already an excellent bar there yet remains potential for improvement: if Dandelion can iron out the last few wrinkles this bar may be one of the all-time greats.

As usual the wrapper for Dandelion’s bar is lovely, although it must be said the visuals don’t extend to the bar within, which is decidedly troubling with a dark colour, and clear signs of tempering/moulding difficulties. Instantly one is primed to think “rustic chocolate”. If it is to be rustic, though, the aroma suggests at most a gentle bucolic variety, having a creamy, almond smoothness to it carrying some redcurrant fruitiness and some warm hints of cinnamon and treacle. A much more promising start than the appearance would suggest.

The taste itself proves that the aroma is indeed more indicative: this is no rustic chocolate but an exercise in refinement. The initial flavour is a wonderful, smooth tropical fruit and banana, then there is a soft woodiness before the flavour progresses towards spicy with molasses. A bit of alarming biscuittiness suggests perhaps overconching, although strangely a rough, only moderately creamy texture appears to belie this.

Clearly there’s a lot of potential in the bean, potential that Dandelion have almost fully extracted. There is room for improvement; overall, it would seem that a slightly more aggressive roast together with a gentler conche might extract even more flavour here, but even as is this is a chocolate that is about at the limit of what is reasonable to expect on a consistent basis from a first-rate manufacturer. Dandelion has obviously done their job well and thoroughly tuned process before releasing bars, which means that from the consumer point of view they will be a delight to taste from the outset. Unmistakably one of the rising stars of the chocolate world.

About the Author

Alex Rast
Alex Rast is a long-time chocolate experimenter, taster and part-time consultant to chocolate companies. Starting in 1990 with early experiments himself in making chocolate, he quickly moved into evaluating chocolates in commercial production and assisting other companies in improving process. Over the course of many years he has evaluated over 700 distinct chocolate bars. He is one of the earliest reviewers for SeventyPercent and has helped to define and systematise the ratings system. In addition to bar chocolate, he also experiments with chocolate baking and the formulation of "canonical" recipes for classic chocolate items.



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