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Review of Amano Chocolate Bars

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Amano chocolate
(c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.
For years, “American chocolate” has been synonymous with mass production, poor quality and mediocre taste. However, in the last decade a number of American companies have begun producing small-batch artisan chocolate. Amano Chocolate is a new entry into the field, and one of only a dozen American companies that make chocolate from bean to bar, meaning they source the beans themselves and do all of the processing. Amano currently has two single-origin bars for sale: Ocumare Grand Cru Dark Chocolate, and Madagascar Premium Dark Chocolate.

Review of Ocumare Grand Cru Dark Chocolate

Let me first say that I am a dark chocolate fanatic, so I was really excited to try these bars. On the suggestion of Art Pollard, Amano’s founder and owner, I tried the Ocumare first, so that it would not be overwhelmed by the more assertive Madagascar bar. Both 2-ounce bars are wrapped in sturdy gold foil and nicely packaged in a simple black cardboard box. As soon as I unwrapped the Ocumare bar, I was hit by a strong scent of dark chocolate. The bar was smooth and shiny with a very nice snap.

The Ocumare bar has a smooth mouthfeel and a floral, woodsy taste. While the Madagascar was very fruity, I found the Ocumare to be more earthy and to have a more subtle and delicate flavor. The texture was silky, and it seemed to have a smoky, dark and saavory finish. Although both bars had a 70% cacao content, the Ocumare seemed less dark, perhaps because of the smoother texture. I tried the Ocumare over the course of a few months, and it got consistently better over time. In the beginning it tasted a bit “green” and harsh, so I think it needed some time to sit and mellow. Fortunately, the bars are labeled with a lot number and a manufacturing date, so there is an easy way to monitor the age of your chocolate bar.

Review of Madagascar Premium Dark Chocolate

Wow! This chocolate was a shock after the understated Ocumare bar. I am glad I took Art Pollard’s advice and tasted it second, because this is a very flavorful bar. The chocolate was very fruity with a tart citrus taste. It was actually refreshing, in the same way tart lemonade can be refreshing and coat your mouth with intense flavor. The finish was a little astringent for me, a bit like tannin, and the texture was not as smooth.

For pure snacking purposes, I would choose the Ocumare Grand Cru bar, but I am really interested in trying the Madagascar bar for baking. I think it would make a fantastic flourless chocolate cake, and the strong fruitiness would produce chocolate desserts that would pair well with berries or vanilla.

Over several tastings, I consistently found myself satisfied after only a few squares of Amano Chocolate, which to my mind is the sign of excellent chocolate—the complex flavors and rich chocolate are satisfying in a way that cheap chocolate never is. The bars are a little pricey for everyday snacking, but they’re a wonderful indulgence, and would make a great gift for the dark chocolate lover in your life.

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