Monday, April 27, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Concepcion

Region: Venezuela

Cocoa Content: 66%

This will be the final bar in our taste of the Michel Cluizel collection before we begin our feature of another artisan chocolate maker (here's a hint - they're Italian). The Carenero beans used to make this bar are from a regional type of cacao grown east of Venezuela's capitol, Caracas. The beans are fermented, dried, and polished in the traditional methods that have been used since 1902 before being handcrafted into one of Cluizel's signature bars. The tasting notes alone are enough to pique interest with descriptions of vanilla, honey spice cake, and caramel, and a lingering aroma of dried fruit.

Also worth a mention are the Cluizel champignons, which are back in stock on our truffle counter. These delicious mushroom-shaped chocolates are filled with a hazelnut gianduja cream and topped with a crunchy nut praline. There are many other deals and delights for you to discover so stop by this Saturday for a taste of Michel Cluizel.

Fun Fact: The Concepcion bar debuted in 1997, along with the Caribbean Los Ancones and the Mangaro bar which uses beans from Madagascar. Each bar is named for its home plantation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Noir 60%

Cocoa content: 60%

Region: Blend

Michel Cluizel (center) with his children.

Well, it's official: April is Michel Cluizel month at Chocolopolis. This is the third Cluizel bar we've featured in the last few weeks, and if you've been in the store recently, you've no doubt seen our large Cluizel display complete with posters and pamphlets. Chocolate this good deserves the attention!

This week's featured bar comes from Cluizel's line of "blends," or chocolate made with beans from multiple origins. At 60% cocoa, it falls into the semisweet range and it's flavor is delightfully balanced and smooth. Try the 60% in comparison to Cluizel's other blends- 85%, 72%, and 45% (milk).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bar of the Week: Michel Cluizel Vila Gracinda

Region: Africa

Cocoa Content: 67%

The Island of Sao Tome, just off the coast of central Africa, has been called the "birthplace of African Cacao in the 19th Century." It's marine climate and rich volcanic soil make it an ideal environment for producing some of the world's most flavorful and aromatic cacao.

Well aware of this fact, Michel Cluizel established a private cacao plantation on the island, the Vila Gracinda Estate. All of the cacao beans used to make this week's featured bar were grown on this estate, and the distinct flavors of the region--ripe, tropical fruits, spices-- shine through beautifully.

And, like all of Cluizel's dark chocolate bars, the Vila Gracinda Plantation bar contains only cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and natural vanilla bean (no soy lecithin to be found!). You'll find Cluizel's Noble Ingredients seal of approval right on the box:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bar of the Week: Pralu Caracas 75%

75% Dark Chocolate

Origin: Venezuela

Bean Type: Trinitario

Though it is no longer the world's largest exporter of cacao, Venezuela is still considered by many to produce the world's finest beans. The Pralus Caracas, named for the Venezuelan capitol, is just one of a host of bars in Chocolopolis' inventory produced from Venezuelan cacao.
The Caracas belongs to Francois Pralus' single-origin line of dark chocolates, and, like it's colorfully wrapped siblings, it is just as wonderful to look at as it is to eat! Compare this bar to another of Pralus' single-origins (we recommend the Djakarta or the Madagascar) to see just how much geography can affect the flavor of cacao.

Fun Fact: Francois Pralus' belief in the ancient Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, reportedly serves as his inspiration to make fine chocolate directly from the bean.