Bertil Åkesson is one of my favourite chocolate makers, but unfortunately his chocolate is a little difficult to get hold of here in the UK. I had to learn several secret handshakes and undergo a rather embarrassing initiation ceremony just to get my hands on this bar.
Despite not being readily available here, it’s a truly international chocolate. Åkesson’s has plantations in Madagascar and Brazil, the chocolate is made in France, the company is registered in Switzerland, and Bertil divides his own time between his plantations, New York and Vienna.
The Åkesson family also grow pepper on those plantations, so it’s perhaps no surprise that they’ve become famous for this combination of Madagascan chocolate and black pepper.
That pepper immediately makes itself known when you open the pack. The rich aroma of black pepper dominates the chocolate, so it’s fair to say that if you’re not a fan of pepper, you’re probably not going to like this.
You probably don’t need a review to tell you that though.
The aroma is something that’s reflected in the flavour, because while it’s not hot, the flavour of the black pepper comes through right from the start. There’s also quite a lot of texture from the coarsely ground pepper scattered throughout the chocolate too.
The Madagascan cocoa is fruity, but it’s much more well rounded than some. There’s a subtle sweetness to it along with a gentle hint of red fruit, but it’s less citrus than many Madagascan chocolates. I think that works well here, because with such strong pepper note, an intensely fruity chocolate might be a bit too much. As it is, the result is a delicious, warming chocolate with fruity edge.
I really like this bar and think it’s well worth seeking out, but make no mistake, the pepper isn’t subtle. But don’t be fooled into thinking it will overwhelm you with heat either. This is much more about flavour and texture than heat. It might not be for everyone, but it’s one of those chocolates you really should try if you can find it – it might just surprise you.