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Amano Chocolate: What a Difference a Bean Makes

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Back in March, I wrote about the TCHO beta bars I received through Blake Makes. I commented on how TCHO used a flavor wheel to describe all of the different flavors in the bars: chocolatey, citrus, fruity, floral, nutty, and earthy. I wasn’t sold on that method and I’m still not. However, after receiving three different Amano bars, all of which were 70% cacao content, I better understand the need for some kind of new taste description system.

While all three bars contained the same ingredients (cocoa beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, and whole Tahitian vanilla pods) and the same cacao percentage, the beans for each bar came from different places. The taste difference was huge.

After the break, my comments on each bar.

The Three Bars

Ocumare: Ocumare De La Costa is a remote valley on the central coast of Venezuela. The type of cacao it is known for is called crillo. The package says it’s fruity and floral. Both Jonathan and I thought it had an olive flavor. The best thing about this chocolate and its brother and sister (yes, I just assigned the other bars sexes) is that as you hold it in your mouth, more and more flavors emerge.
Cuyagua: Cuyagua is another valley in Venezuela. Amano tells us that this bar has an “incredible complex chocolate flavor with natural flavor notes of spices, fruit.” I’d have to second that comment on complexity. It’s rich and smooth like you want chocolate to be, but also spicy and bitter and sweet all at the same time.
Madagascar: This bar is made from beans that originated in Venezuela and were transported to Madagascar. The package says it’s a “mild chocolate flavor, accented with citrus.” The Madagascar bar was my favorite. It is quite citrusy – so much so, that as I sucked on it, it actually made my mouth pucker.

Which Amano Bar Would I Recommend?

All three. I mean that literally. Don’t just get one – get all three so that you can see what a difference a bean makes. It’s fascinating.

Are You Writing About This to Tell Us You Are Making Another Chocolate Cupcake?

I am not writing about this to tell you I am making another chocolate cupcake. I was given three bars and wanted to use them all for a very important purpose – eating! I didn’t want use these bars in a cupcake because I wanted to savor the chocolate all to itself.
Amano has, however, started selling bulk chocolate for baking! I may have to get my hands on some of that!
In the meantime, I did the second best thing I could do and made a tres leches cupcake dedicated to Venezuela, the home of all of these great beans.
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7 comments on “Amano Chocolate: What a Difference a Bean Makes”

  1. cybelesays:

    I really enjoy Amano and have eaten (I think) three or four of the Ocumare and one each of the Cuyagua and Madagascar. I think I just love Ocumare (I like Chocovic’s too.)

    I’m so excited to hear that Amano will be selling in bulk and I’m eager to see what you make with it! (I wouldn’t know where to start with untempered chocolate – does it make a difference in baking?)

  2. artsays:

    Hi Cybele:

    This is Art over at Amano. For baking and general chefing, this would make absolutely no difference at all. The chocolate simply doesn’t have a glossy finish on it.

    Tempering only makes a difference if you are planning on making confections or similar where the finish is important. In this case, the chocolate needs to be tempered which can be done by hand or through the use of a tempering machine. But for general baking (which is what your comment is referring to, I believe), the temper of the chocolate isn’t important.

    As a side note, we recently received a brand-spanking-new tempering machine and thus will be shortly offering our chocolate in 10oz (tempered) baking bars as soon as the next batch is ready. So the finish of the chocolate will be as beautiful as the chocolate itself is.

  3. gizsays:

    I so don’t even recognize the names of these chocolates.

  4. Bwahahahahah- sounds like you have officially come over to the dark side! I gave Laurie some tasting notes a while back but I guess she never posted them. Hmmm…
    I think the Ocumare is best for those who don’t normally like dark chocolate. Very mild and very reminiscent of milk chocolate. Creamy tone with some fruity notes up front. You get a wonderful smooth palate finish on this one. Makes a good all purpose baking chocolate especially when paired with cocoa.
    Cuyagua is my personal favorite. I love the smell right away when you are opening the wrapper. Much stronger cocoa presence up front. You get very fruity flavor right away. But then a nice vanilla spice finish. It’s my ganache chocolate. Rich and flavorful, its a chocolate punch. Madagascar seems mild but then you get those wonderful citrus notes. It reminds me a lot of orange tea. Much more acidic (versus floral) than the others makes it interesting and complex. This is a fun one to play around with in baking dishes. Can pair up with nuts or fruits and still hold its own well. Will bounce off those flavors to add complexity to any pastry. I think it might make for an interesting addition to savory dishes as well.
    I have to say~ you are getting a pretty sophisticated chocolate palate! I remember when you first tried Patric you were a lot less sure. Seems like you are much more confident~ congrats!

  5. Hey I got some Amano chocolates from Blakemakes too!
    They’re awesome yep!?

  6. Stefsays:

    Cybele – Looks like Art got your question answered. Glad he got to it before me and you got the true expert answer.

    Art – Thanks so much for chiming in here and helping to answer Cybele’s question!

    Giz – Check em out. It’s worth it!

    TW – Thanks so much for sharing your tasting notes! Interesting. I’m getting there. I’m still no expert, but I’m definitely enjoying trying and learning about better chocolates.

  7. Thanks for many of your great suggestions. I am fairly new to the cupcake world and am eager to try new products– great review!

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