Don’t flinch under the unflinching gaze of the guy on the bar of Menakao’s 100% chocolate when you crack the lid of this hardcore Cocoa Runners collection. Forget all that guff about pure chocolate being unpalatable, unrefined and all but inedible (if not that very thing).
High-cocoa chocolate hewn by the fair hands of skilled chocolate makers is a happy thing indeed. And indeed, poorly-treated, rough-around-the edges chocolate can be every bit as bitter as these bars are, but simultaneously fall flat when it comes to flavour.
These specimens have flavours to savour by the bucketload. 100% chocolate might be commonly called ‘uncompromising’, but this quartet is uncommonly good; the cocoa content not coupled with a compromise in terms of eating quality. The Cocoa Runners‘ aim is always to both surprise and open your eyes – this box will do both.
Madagascar is known for yielding some of the fruitiest beauties of the chocolate world; the bean’s own slightly sweet nature enhancing the eating of 100% chocolate – the stuff that will show you as much sugar as a paid lady of the night, without actually containing a single scrap of the sweet stuff.
A high cocoa butter content means makes for a well-lubricated introduction to the darkest side of chocolate consumption; even for virgin eaters. Cocoa Runners‘ choices aim to showcase a wide spectrum of styles, in spite of the bars coming from shared soil.
In a blind sampling session, I triumph in coupling Cocoa Runners‘ tasting notes with the correct chocolate. Already being quite mad for Menakao, the bold, bright flavours were easy to identify. A lower-cocoa Combava & Pink Pepper bar from the same maker plays on the fruity flavours that are revealed here in all their naked splendour; already inherent in the brand’s beans.
This is the first piece of Pralus I’ve popped in my mouth, but this brand doesn’t need to butter me up – this smooth-melting square wins me over in seconds. This one melts so smoothly and swiftly that you barely get to know its perplexing character – lightly nutty and slightly smoky – before it’s gone.
Åkesson’s does some super things with spices, famed for a range of bars peppered with its very own peppers, but it also creates chocolate that needs not a single added element. The 100% is a case in point – packed with flavours from the purple fruit family; and again, melting marvellously and low on the tannis that can leave the mouth desert-dry.
This box brings a rare chance to relish Robert’s chocolate – the brand is big in its home country but not seen much outside Madagascar. The 100% ‘Chocolat Madagascar’ bar offers an unadulterated introduction to the style of the island’s cocoa crop – a little bolder than the Åkesson’s, with more fruity acidity and a lovely little liquorice note.
As you come to expect from Cocoa Runners, each of these bars is noteworthy in its own right. This collection has been exceptionally cleverly-curated – without exception, I enjoyed each inclusion. And the inclusion of a surprise square of Marou’s Tien Gang only makes me feel more favourable towards a service that just gets more superb.
- For a mega-guide to high-cocoa chocolate featuring 50 bars, click here.
- To read a review of Cocoa Runners’ introductory box, click here.
- To read about more of Menakao’s chocolate range, click here.
- To find out more about Cocoa Runners, click here.