Regular readers may notice a bit of a Madagascan theme to this week’s reviews, but the connection between this Dandelion chocolate, the Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé bar and the Åkesson’s With Black Pepper goes deeper than just country of origin. All three bars are actually made with cocoa beans from the same Åkesson-owned Ambolikapiky plantation.
Dandelion Chocolate are one of the new breed of bean to bar chocolate makers that have popped up in the US over the last few years. Founded by Cameron Ring and Todd Masonis in 2010 and based in the Mission district of San Francisco, they’ve quickly made a name for themselves as one of the best artisan chocolate makers in the world.
Unfortunately, their chocolate is quite difficult to get hold of here in the UK. While you can find it in Paul A Young’s London shops, it will set you back a hefty £9.50 a bar rather than the $8 it costs in the US. But is it worth the price? What makes this chocolate so special?
Well the packaging is a good place to start. It’s simple but stylish and follows the current trend for thick, wallpaper style paper printed with what looks like it could be stylised cocoa pod cross-sections. It may look hand-wrapped, but Dandelion actually have a rather cool machine to do it for them.
Underneath that wrapper, the moulding design is a little more old fashioned. The simple pillow-shaped squares are simple and they do the job, and importantly the chocolate has a great finish to it. That packaging has kept it in perfect condition on its journey half way around the world.
The colour is a deep, slightly reddish brown and the aroma is rich and fruity. Given the bean origin, it’s surprising that it’s so similar to the Rózsavölgyi bar. The flavour is subtly different though. The Dandelion chocolate has a smoother, more rounded flavour with more red fruit notes, with less of the harsh citrus edge. The tasting notes on the wrapper mention an ‘almond caramel finish’, but for me the fruitiness seemed to go on forever.
If you can find this bar, it’s well worth trying. Outside the US, that’s a little easier said than done though. Here in London, Paul a Young’s Soho shop has a range of Dandelion and other artisan bars if you don’t mind paying a bit of a premium. I’m of the opinion that we should all be paying a premium for quality chocolate like this anyway – if you’re prepared to pay £10 for a bottle of wine, you shouldn’t have a problem paying the same for great chocolate.
Everyone knows that chocolate is better than wine anyway.