July 6, 2012

Pralus – Porcelana

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Written by: Alex Rast

It’s best thought of as a data point – something to try once and even to enjoy, but perhaps not to revisit, at least not too frequently

While the box suggests a light colour, the bar is in fact if anything on the darker side, certainly not the very light, almost milk colour one gets from many Porcelanas. The finish is also disturbingly rustic in appearance, lacking the more usual Pralus refinement, and altogether looks like a work in progress.

On the other hand, the aroma is very noble. It’s bold and powerful, a real feat for the bean, with cherry and raspberry appearing, before woodiness leads into hints of molasses and prune along with the ever-characteristic Pralus smokiness. Interesting, and a new direction for Porcelana, with a lot of promise. Which, unfortunately, the flavour can’t quite deliver. It’s got that raspberry flavour as promisted immediately, and Porcelana chocolatiness then appears, but then it dies in a cocoa and earthy mess with coffee and smoke appearing. The initial flavours are lovely but there’s no sustain here, and it really looks as though overroasting is the culprit: Porcelana just needs a lighter touch.

Texture is also problematic, rather rough and grainy. The whole thing feels more like a prototype than a final, finished bar, and perhaps we will see better from Pralus in future. But with the flavour evolution so suddenly collapsing, it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that it’s just a problem of the wrong style. There are many quality cocoa sources, and some simply suit some chocolatiers’ style better than others: it’s worthwhile for a manufacturer to make conscious decisions about which to use and which to ignore, regardless of global prestige. On a similar prestige level, for example, Chuao is a bean which is a natural fit for Pralus and the comparison, side-by-side, fortunately possible if, like this reviewer, you get the box set, is enlightening. One is undoubtedly a great bar, this one, on the the other hand, is a bar with glimmers of greatness but too much muddy disappointment. Let there be no mistake: in absolute terms, this bar is actually rather good; it’s just that in relative terms, it doesn’t shine.

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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