November 18, 2012

Chapon – Chuao

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Written by: Alex Rast

The Chuao craze shows no sign of abating, with yet another interpretation gracing the market, this one from French producer Chapon. As it turns out the end result is strangely similar to those films with a spectacular trailer and an inevitably mildly disappointing actual film. Here, though, the “trailer” isn’t simply the prestige of Chuao but rather the aroma which is a sumptuous preview to a bar whose taste can’t quite live up to the promise. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see a broad variety of interpretations for a particular source, and this might ideally become the standard for many sources: lots of manufacturers, lots of different ideas, results to please one and all.

Chapon goes for a very polished style in the visuals, quite literally, the bar having the high sheen of the smooth-faced mould. An almost complete lack of moulding defects, and again, that sheen, indicate impressive handling, although the bar is worrisomely darker than typical for the source. However, the aroma is so archetypal of the source as to be a reference standard, immediately bursting out in redcurrant and blueberry, then moving to dark liquorice and wood, with some interesting hints of floral and honey that put it that step above all other Chuao interpretations. It’s hard to imagine an aroma much better or more characteristic than this.

But where the aroma compels tasting, as it turns out, the flavour is much more basic. Initially it begins with fairly generic creamy and chocolatey, before clear signs of strong, heavy roast turn up as the flavour evolves to cocoa and then to coffee, with some hints of ashiness in there as well. Fruity hints do emerge, mostly of a dark blueberryish variety, but on the whole it’s the roast that dominates, unfortunately erasing most of the notes so prominent in the aroma. Not that the flavour is bad per se, but still, a real pity.

It’s really too bad that the flavour speaks of heavy-handedness too, for the texture is at the peak of perfection, impossibly smooth and creamy and completely remaining true to the visual impression. It’s a bar that, to judge from the aroma, could have been the best ever, but for the roast. If it weren’t so aggressive, and if the flavour could have retained the elements so obvious in the aroma, this chocolate would have been very close to getting the unimaginable, a perfect score. But as it is, it turns out to be another worthy and interesting interpretation of the Chuao origin, but no more than that, something worthwhile to try but something that needs a bit of tinkering

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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