1. Food

Review of Amano Chocolate Bars

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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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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