January 10, 2006
anaya wrote: "i have found that different batches do have slight differences in texture and flavors. Is the lack of lecithin and vanilla responsible for this changes?"
Anaya - are you actually referring to different batches (i.e. different dates of production), or different lines (i.e. Plantations 75%, 90%, and 100%)?
I only have samples from a 2005 batch to go by, but looking at the ingredients listed in the reviews on this site, the ingredients haven't actually changed between batches (not from 2004 to 2005, anyway). That is, in 2004 and 2005, the ingredients were listed as follows:
75% - Pure cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, no lecithin, no vanilla flavor
90% - Pure cocoa mass, cane sugar, no added cocoa butter, no lecithin, no vanilla flavor
100% - Pure cocoa mass, no added cocoa butter, no lecithin, no vanilla flavor.
It seems unlikely to me that a total absence of one or more ingredients (namely lecithin and vanilla) across two batches and an entire product range could account for differences in texture and flavour between those products.
The accepted way to get around an absence of lecithin in chocolate is to add extra cocoa butter. Hence, given that the 90% and 100% bars have no lecithin and no added cocoa butter, this could account for a noticeable difference in texture between those bars and the 75% bar.
August 1, 2006
Several things should be noted here. First of all, Plantations' ingredients have remained consistent throughout years and batches, so regardless of batch, the ingredients will be the same. Second, only vanilla is excluded from ALL of their bars. Lecithin is used for only some of the bars, not all, and if you've noticed cocoa butter is added to all their bars starting from 75% in descending order. Thirdly, I have pointed out several times that Plantations underwent some changes in their production procedures, and this is the culprit for the improved quality. Which brings me back to #3: vanilla and lecithin cannot change the quality of a chocolate THAT dramatically. The differences between batches are just too austere. Fourthly, several companies are producing chocolate without lecithin, some without vanilla, and some without either. I suggest you check out Domori, Cluizel, Amedei, Bonnat, and several other brands mentioned on this site. If you read the reviews provided here, you will also be presented with the ingredients for each bar. You will quickly learn that lecithin is not needed for a desirable texture, and that vanilla is superfluous for a round flavor. Both have been traditionally used for years, and it is just recently that chocolatiers are breaking this mold on a more widescale basis.