Here’s another of Duffy Sheardown’s single origin bars, stone ground and hand made in Lincolnshire. As previously mentioned, Duffy is one of only three UK chocolate makers who import the beans and make.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Sheardowns at the recent Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia, and he very kindly gave me this bar to review. He also let me try a couple of new arrivals he’d managed to secure (rare beans sourced from Honduras among them, but more about that another time).
The Star of Panama bar is a 70% cocoa creation, and like all of Duffy’s products the cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter are all organic and fairly traded. The chocolate has deep, dark reddish brown colour and the aroma from the bar has a lot of citrus high notes. On the palate it’s quite buttery but with a lot of depth. The ‘Taste Profile’ on the wrapper suggests ‘deep chocolate, buttered toast and warm chestnuts’ and it’s a pretty good description. As the chocolate melts there’s a real depth of rich chocolate and butter with more organic flavour which is indeed suggestive of sweet chestnut. Alongside the chocolate there’s a subtle sweetness which lingers as the chocolate melts away. It’s a clean, slightly bittersweet finish with a mouthwatering acidity and (again as suggested in the taste profile) subtle sweet almond notes.
Star of Panama is quite a ‘light’ dark chocolate – the cocoa flavours aren’t huge and bold and the blending of the cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and sugar has been done in such a way that there’s more sweetness in the overall taste than one might initially expect. It’s a very pleasant bar – so pleasant that during the course of tasting it I had to rein myself in a little so as not to consume the whole bar in one sitting!
Of course, due to the nature of the product and the size of Red Star’s operation, these bars aren’t the easiest to find. They can be purchased at Paul A Young’s shop in Islington and online, but you’ll need to make an effort to get your hands on this stuff. Having said that, effort has it’s rewards, and this chocolate is certainly worth tracking down.