Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pralus Chocolate

Pralus is a French chocolatier that makes single origin bars. Each Pralus bar comes from a single location and uses a single type of bean. On Chocosphere, you can buy variety packs, showcasing all of the bars for $45.95 for 50 gram bars or $8.95 for 5 gram bars. The full-sized 100 gram bars are $8.35 each.

I really loved the Pralus bars. Shockingly, for fine chocolate, the bars ingredients include soy lecithin. Most fine chocolates sneer at such additives, though at least they use only GMO-free soy lecithin. However, I judge by taste, not by purity of additives, and these are good bars. Each bar is 75% cacao.

Just a quick reminder on bean type, since Pralus, unlike many other chocolate makers, uses a variety of beans. Forastero beans are the most common used in bulk commercial chocolate but can be fantastic when handled correctly. Crillo is considered a more gourmet bean and is used in much high-end chocolate. Trinitario is a hybrid of criollo and forastero.

Here are my thoughts on the range:

Papouasie (Papua New Guinea), Trinitario beans
Beautiful, subtle chocolate flavor. Very understated. Dark but not bitter and only a light sweetness.

Indonesie (Indonesia) Criollo beans
Fruit and acid flavor...maybe cherries. Fairly typical of criollos.

Sao Tome (Sao Tome & Principe) Forastero beans
Very nice, earthy with strong olive tones. Reminds me very much of Michel Cluizel's Los Ancones bar which has that similar olive and brine flavor.

Trinidad, Trinitario beans
Very dark, a little bit soapy and earthy. Very low acid.

Venezuela, Trinitario beans
Very Venezuelan. Sweet with some berries and dried fruit. This flavor profile is why Venezuelan chocolate is so popular, though, for my part, I generally prefer some of the darker, earthy chocolates from Africa and the Caribbean.

Tanzanie (Tanzania) Forastero beans
Dried fruit but not too sweet. A nice bar.

Ghana, Forastero beans
Dark, rich, very low acid and low on aromatics. Meaty, evincing beef, poultry and umami flavors. A really fabulous and very different bar.

Madagascar, Criollo
Dark but also acidic, in a generic, non-fruity way. This one lacks balance.

Colombie (Colombia) Trinitario beans
Good flavor, moderate acidity, nice balance, very even keeled.

Equateur (Ecuador) Trinitario beana
Subtle, a slight bit of grittyness though nice flavor.

Overall, I really enjoyed these chocolates. They encompassed a wide range of flavors - from heavily acidic, to fruity, to simply dark, and it was fun to taste some of the non-criollos and taste the differences across bean type and geography. The texture of the bars was generally good and lacked the artificial mouthfeel that can sometimes come with soy lecithin, though none of the bars had the creamy quality that some great bars have. I'd place them in the higher range of chocolate bars generally, though not at the very top.

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