This post is a combination of old news. Stop reading now, if you dislike old news. Personally, I like old news, and I’d like to hear more of it. For instance, I’d like to read about how powdered wigs became fashionable several centuries ago. Or what folks had for dinner before they ambled off to watch witches be burned at the stake in Salem. Or what my sad town, Bangor, looked like back when it was more aptly dubbed “The Queen City.”
Three chocolate bars remain from my May visit to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville. I will only look at one, the EZCA bar from Escazu, in detail. Old news is fascinating.
Feel more special about receiving this old news with the addition of a juicy nugget: the EZCA bar is an extinct item. I bought one of the last of its kind, as the product line has since been reworked and revamped. Pourquoi? Pourquoi pas! There is actually a reason, which we’ll get to shortly.
Before delving into what might be the most interesting milk chocolate / dark chocolate with milk / milkdarkchocolate I have ever tasted, a brief interlude of the aforementioned “sightings of Vosges and Mast Brothers.” Qu’est-ce que c’est? Well, there are occasionally chocolates that don’t make it around for reviewal. Several reasons may (theoretically) exist as to why this is:
1. Your Vosges Organic Enchanted Mushroom bar may have been reviewed by Extreme Chocolate Ninja Hannah days to weeks before you planned to review just the very same thing. Her dislike of, nay, disappointment with, the not-so-mushroomy bar may have saddened you into blog-less complacency. You may have tried the bar, only to exclaim “The Ninja was right again! Where are the Reishi mushrooms I have looked forward to every day since I purchased this bar on May 19th!? All I taste are walnuts!”
2. Your Mast Brothers Venezuela 75% Dark Chocolate bar may have survived photographing only to be entirely devoted to filling three generously-portioned ramekins with a Chocolate Caramel Pots de Crème dessert that you whipped up at the request of a wonderful friend as the icing on the cake (or the crème in the pot) for a very very delicious farewell dinner. You may or may not like to think that the dessert was extra frickin’ delicious because of the $8.00 chocolate bar thrown heedlessly into the mix.
3. Your Vosges bars always come out of their packaging looking like a hot mess.
In five words, the Vosges organic Enchanted Mushroom bar was tasty, smooth, mild, underwhelming and surprising. Surprising because the walnut taste was so prevalent, the Reishi mushroom taste was present but elusive, and this bar was the first of those I’ve had by Vosges to leave me wishing for more (oof, did you make the jump with me back to first-person narrative?). And there you have it: a brief, underwhelming chocolate review, thoroughly representative of the subject matter.
The Mast Brothers Venezuela bar is from the Ocumare region and is found to be reminiscent of licorice, raisin, tea, earth and apricot. My version was reminiscent of chocolate and caramel and pot (poh, that is) and crème. Escazu’s bar is also from Venezuela, but from roughly 110 miles to the east – keep the Ocumare flavor profile in mind as this Escazu Goat’s Milk bar of Carenero origins is discussed in more detail.
On to the main attraction, Escazu Chocolates is a bean-to-bar company located in Raleigh, North Carolina, that began churning out chocolate in 2006. Hallot Parson’s one-man show lasted two years, at which point he recruited chocolatier Danielle Centeno of Venezuela. These days, three other busy chocolate bees assist with chocolatiering (oh, how sweet those words sound to my ears), bar production, and shopkeeping. That’s right, in addition to wholesale bar production, this small operation also runs a storefront. And convinces talented artists to design clothing for them. I want this life. Or maybe… just one of those cardigans.
The bar shown here is an out-of-date version of the current Escazu Goat’s Milk, 60% Carenero. Parson informed me that my version, the EZCA 60% Dark Goat’s Milk, was part of the company’s EZCA line, a line that they have now done away with. A play on ‘Escazu,’ the EZCA chocolates were the company’s single-origin bars, a nifty concept that ended up confusing curious customers such as myself. I was even more confused when the back of the box listed the company as ‘Ezcazu.’ This all proved to be a bit much for me to comprehend, as I was suspicious upon discovering that the company was actually ‘Escazu….’ was I eating spin-off chocolate?
Nope. And were I to purchase more bars today, I would now see that the company has streamlined all of their bars into the same large size that the non-single-origin bars previously claimed title to.
This bar was an experience that I savored for a long time. I even shared some with a friend, a boyfriend, and a mother – which is rare by my normally selfish hoarding standards. But I shared willingly, because I wanted others to experience the amazing taste that the added goat’s milk brought to the chocolate. Unfortunately, the taste remained mild to absent for my three lucky EZCA partners in crime. Fortunately, it was strong for me (…and the selfish hoarder is back).
Beans from the Carenero region of Venezuela make up this single-origin bar. With the opening of the packaging, I was hit with a tangy chocolate aroma, and smooth coffee notes. Upon the first taste, only chocolate is present. With time, however – especially letting the chocolate melt on the palate – the flavor of goat’s milk kicks in. And it is astonishing. Parson told me that several different varieties of cacao beans were initially tried with a goat’s milk addition, but none worked as successfully as the Carenero bean. And I would agree, they definitely found a winner.
With further tasting of the bar, the goat’s milk receded to the back of the palate, where it remained mild, but present. I believe that I had become more accustomed to its taste, and it had, over time, mixed artfully with the chocolate notes. The chocolate itself tasted earthy to me, with a slight twist reminiscent of spice and coffee and some variety of nutty fruit. However, the ‘slight’ twist became a super tangy twist – thanks to the goat’s milk.
This bar was a good introduction to goat’s milk chocolate, and it should be mentioned that Escazu lists this product as the chocolate maker’s favorite. Not having tried their other selections, I can’t make any outlandish claims, but I can state that this was an excellent, interesting, well-made bar.
936 N Blount St
Purchase Escazu Chocolates online.