September 6, 2011

Dandelion – Madagascar

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Written by: Alex Rast

Perhaps the best of Dandelion’s chocolates (to date) and a very impressive effort for a new manufacturer. True to form, this chocolate displays impressive fruitiness along with a refinement that puts it in front of its peers in the Dandelion line. By any standard this would be fine chocolate and can compete on equal terms with great chocolates from more established companies like Amano or Pralus.

Even before opening, the simply lovely package design of Dandelion’s chocolates: patterned heavy paper with very heavy foil within, speaks of elegance, although the bar within is perhaps a little less elegant than its wrapping. Clear marks of uneven temper and moulding appear, and it must be said that, while light, the colour is a little darker than the typical Madagascar. However, the aroma instantly serves to silence any misgivings due to appearance: it’s amazingly fruity and powerful, with strawberries and redcurrants alternating. Hints of the woodiness common to Madagascar emerge, along with interesting spicy, cayenne traces, although slight suggestions of grassy and biscuit seem a little out of place. Nonetheless, the aroma is among the best yet in a Madagascar, which so often turn out a bit light and unassuming.

The flavour is even better, rather reminiscent of Amedei’s superb older Madagascar (not their more recent batches), starting with raisin, then moving to the predicted redcurrant and woody. Hints of cream serve to soften the balance and provide contrast. Finish is the best part yet, a lovely chocolatey with a cocoa slant, that continues on for ages, keeping the memory alive of a fine achievement indeed.

Melt, too, is rather felicitously above Dandelion’s usual, being smooth and creamy, and providing the appropriate finishing touch to an excellent effort. In many ways Dandelion seems to be following a similar trajectory to Amano in the early days, a company which as we have seen has gone from strong initial promise to world-class maturity. In fact, the Madagascar, it must be said, is even more accomplished than Amano’s early efforts, and this bodes well for the future. Is there room for improvement with this chocolate? Perhaps slightly. The roast could be ever that bit lighter, perhaps balanced with a slightly longer conche, but these are very much small tweaks. As is, this chocolate sets something of a benchmark for up-and-coming manufacturers: Dandelion is clearly the company to beat in the third generation of artisan chocolate producers.

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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