November 18, 2012

Friis-Holm – Chuno Triple Turned

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Written by: Alex Rast

A very interesting new exploration of territory Friis-Holm first examined with the original Chuno, but with different source processing. Working closely with Xoco, the source company, this chocolate purports to exhibit a very balanced process, and the results are excellent, if not the flavour explosion those in the top-end chocolate world have come to expect. Rather, it’s almost like experiencing a blend in varietal form. Nonetheless it has enough character to maintain interest, although perhaps along lines that betray the current but somewhat long-in-the-tooth fashion for dark, raisiny chocolate flavours. Overall, this means a bar that, if the expectation is something wild and unusual, might well disappoint but taken on its own merits as chocolate, without any preconceived notions, is very much a fine chocolate indeed.

Out of the wrapper, the large, chunky bar has an intimidating look, not just from the size but the darkish colour and somewhat matt finish. It will be said that perhaps the temper on it might be marginally improved, but it’s well within the range of well-tempered. Aroma is surprisingly retreating, soft and reminiscent of vanilla and cream, with hints of tobacco and fruits, along with molasses. Mostly it looks like the flavour will be quite mild, a definite departure from the typically assertive Chuno bean.

As it happens, the flavour isn’t so much mild as it is balanced. The initial flavour is very much dark, sugary raisin/blackberry, then there is a soft vanilla and cocoa interlude, almost like a hot chocolate, before stronger elements reassert themselves: woody and olive with hints of molasses. There’s a good flavour evolution here, with a sense that the peakiness common in single-origins has been smoothed out, so that the progression seems seamless rather than abrupt. Only in Porcelana and other pure Criollos has it heretofore been typical to find such smooth flavour progressions in a single varietal.

As per usual, Friis-Holm does a great job with the texture, as smooth and balanced as is the flavour. Maybe there is a bit too much cocoa butter to be ideal, but that certainly helps the fluidity and provides the appropriate texture for such a refined flavour. Roughness here would just be inappropriate. So how does this put the Triple Turned overall? Ultimately it stands or falls on its process. On the one hand, this is an excellent and accessible chocolate, which will appeal to a wide audience while having enough distinctive character to be convincingly interesting. On the other, it feels as though still better interpretations of the Chuno bean lurk: somehow with the right combination of processes the sense is that something truly extraordinary might result. It doesn’t have that sort of electric appeal, not yet. But regardless of that, it sets a standard for a new way of looking at chocolate, as a total process. Considered as half of a matching pair with the Double Turned, it’s a chocolate that proclaims powerfully that there is no one “canonical” process that can be seen as the only appropriate way of creating a chocolate, rather, there is a spectrum of possibilities, with different outcomes, each of which deserves to find expression.

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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