January 3, 2006
Sort of new to the boards and have been reading a few posts before I decided to ask my questions.
1. How many types of cacao are there? I keep hearing there are 4 but I remember learning of only 3, criollo, trinitario, and forastero. Although I have a good pictures of the quality, can someone elaborate on them, i would be very grateful.
2. In the emulsifier discussion, which was quite interesting, I was wondering if emulsifiers weren't helping with a consistent product as they disperse the flavors evenly and although purity of just cacao and sugar and vanilla would make a better bar, isn't it possible that through an entire batch you could get anomalies that were not as good as what you would expect from the bar.
3. Also 85% bars are my favorite although the chuao, porcelena and some domori are quite enjoyable as well. What others besides the cluziel (yay they opened a NYC store!) are there and do you have any recommendation as 99 is still too much for me unless i have a completely clean palate.
August 1, 2006
1. The mysterious fourth type of cacao is Nacional, which grows predominantly in Ecuador and Colombia. It's regarded as a fourth type because of the plant's Forastero-like heartiness and the Criollo-like delicacy of flavor. You most likely have heard of Arriba as well, which is a particular subclass, one that is actually very prized and can produce extraordinary chocolate when handled properly.
2. Emulsifiers are used to maintain the bonds between fats and liquids, but this doesn't mean that their use is intended for such applications. They also allow for greater fluidity and a slightly smoother mouthfeel when the chocolate melts. As many companies have shown (Cluizel, Domori, Amedei, etc.), emulsifiers are not needed to produce quality chocolate.
3. The 85% range is often quite problematic for chocolatiers, as many of the bars end up tasting flat or too bitter. With such little sugar it's difficult to maintain a round profile and keep the bitterness in check without sacrificing intensity. Lindt has done an excellent job at this percentage, in addition to Galler and Castelain. Just remember, though, a lower percentage is certainly okay because imo more flavor is often to be had here.