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Vanilla - what's real?
February 4, 2005
7:50 pm
Sebastian
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It should also be pointed out that natural vanilla is comprised of vanillin somewhere in the area of 80-90% of the flavor chemicals. Vanilla is mostly vanillin. And here's something I just learned this week - don't know why it surprises me, but it does - not all vanillin is artificial.

However, if the label says vanilla, both EU and US legislation are pretty strict that it's actually real vanilla. However, that doesn't guarantee that those making the labels are in compliance with regulations, but from a strictly regulatory standpoint, if it says vanilla, it is vanilla.

February 4, 2005
9:05 pm
Martin Christy
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See my blog on this ;)

Yes it's the theory that 'vanilla' means vanilla. I guess one way to develop this is to say we'd like to know about the origin of the vanilla just as we'd like to know the origin of the cocoa beans. I good producer will care about the origin of all their ingredients (and the ones I know, do).

Martin Christy
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Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
February 4, 2005
9:32 pm
Sebastian
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yup, i read it. i'm fairly certain vanilla has a standard of identity (thought i'd have to check to be sure) - i think the basic take away should be along these lines :

if the ingredient statement reads vanilla, it's the real mccoy. at least it should be, if it's not, the producer is intentionaly decieving, and i'd like to believe none would do this.
if it reads vanilla flavor, vanilla flavors, natural vanilla flavor, or vanilla WONF (with other natural flavors), then you've got either a nature identical or a fascimile.
if it reads vanillin or artificial flavor(s), then obviously it's not made from the whole shebang.
if it reads natural flavor, then it could be any one of the above 8-)

February 5, 2005
5:08 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
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Alex, I meant that the chocolate itself has a taste similar to vanilla. Ideally, you're not supposed to actually "taste" the added vanilla to a chocolate. It's not used as a flavoring but as a flavor enhancer. The same principle applies to salt. You don't actually "taste" it, but you can taste the enhanced flavor it lends to a dish. If you taste vanilla in Esmeraldas simply because Domori added vanilla to it, then there's an obvious problem that they need to address quickly. Perhaps a reason Domori opted for added vanilla in Esmeraldas is to round out an otherwise flat flavor. I don't know if you've tried Chocovic's bars, but they taste somewhat flat and they contain no vanilla either. I think there might be a correlation with single bean chocolates and flatness; there aren't other beans to round out the flavor, so vanilla has to be added to achieve the desired results. Could be, maybe, possibly, who knows.

February 5, 2005
5:26 pm
alex_h
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hmm, ok, monte. i've just compared domori's two esmeraldas (with and w/o vanilla) and i must agree that the one with vanilla is more round, though i can't agree with you fully when you say varietal chocolates require vanilla for roundness. i find domori's rio caribe superior is stunted by the added vanilla and that in the newer version w/o tastes much more intense and... well, yes, rough. but it doesn't need to be rounded imo.
i can't imagine what their sur del lago would taste like with vanilla, but it could end up pretty bland. if i had a say, many more bars would contain salt. i fell in love with salted chocolate when i tried the 80% in the hacienda san jose cases. more of that, i say! gianluca, are you listening?

February 5, 2005
7:21 pm
Martin Christy
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Sur del lago is the one Domori chocolate I find really boring. A lot of other people have said they realy like it, but it does nothing for me.

Martin Christy
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Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
February 6, 2005
12:01 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Well, Sur del Lago has a relatively mild and noncomplex flavor to it anyway. I love Domori's because of the peanut tone, gentle fruitiness, and overall cocoa flavor it possesses. Granted, it's nothing that sticks out, but I appreciate it for its unassertive nature.

Alex, I didn't say that single bean chocolate "requires" vanilla, but rather I pointed out a possible correlation of flatness that occurs in these chocolates. I was wondering that maybe the lack of other beans could explain the relative flatness I've experienced in some bars.

February 7, 2005
10:25 am
alex_h
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yeah, sur del lago is my least favorite as well. tops for me are esmeraldas, rio caribe superior and carenero superior, but i think i am taking this thread off track...

sorry, monte, ol' chap ;-)
i misunderstood or didn't read your entry correctly.

February 8, 2005
2:31 pm
alex_h
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hmm, had some sur del lago again and this time i liked it. very quiet taste.

what if the ingredients say: 'flavoured with natural vanilla' (in german: 'naturvanille (aroma)')?
this is what my el rey gran saman says. sounds fishy if you ask me, especially the german labeling (aroma).

does pralus use vanilla? i can't remember.

February 8, 2005
3:58 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
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The English labeling for the El Rey bars state "vanilla," and I think the confusion exists in the translation. Pralus uses vanilla too, the list simply stating "vanilla" as well.

Alex, I find it funny that you say the other crus are tops with you, but those are all the others! Hard time making up your mind? hehe [;)]

February 8, 2005
6:52 pm
alex_h
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simply 'vanilla'? no, mine says 'flavoured with natural vanilla'.

:P i am having a hard time. but to simplify matters here's my domori cru ranking. one being my fave and five the least so:
1. rio caribe superior
2. carenero superior
3. esmeraldas
4. sur del lago
5. sambirano

it's all a bunch of thin lines though ;) not easy deciding it isn't.

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