These days, it seems that no matter where you go, there is someone making bean-to-bar chocolate and that is a wonderful thing. So when I was recently down in North Carolina for a conference, I just happened to stumble upon some local bean to bar chocolate without even trying.
Escazú Chocolates have been making chocolate in Raleigh for six years, having caught the bug after a visit to a chocolate farm in Costa Rica. So by this time they have already gone through the teething troubles that come with such an endeavour and the bars they are currently making are really rather impressive.
The one that caught my eye was a 60% Venezuelan origin bar, but not because of the origin of the beans. Rather it was because of the fact that it was made with goat’s milk and I’ve never had any chocolate made with goat milk before. That also means that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect either, so this was going to be an adventure whatever happened.
It is a single origin bar, with the Carenero beans coming from just east of Caracus – they might not be the most beloved beans from Venezuela, but they still have some of the same fruity notes.
The chocolate itself has a tiny bit of grittiness to it – something which I actually like and feel is a good match for rustic flavour of the goat milk.
What exactly the goat milk adds to proceedings is hard to articulate without sounding kind of negative, but you can definitely taste the goat. Or rather, there’s a sweet creaminess with slight tang and a bit of muskiness. It is a really good accompaniment for the earthiness of the chocolate, and the end result is something which tastes more like a milk chocolate than a 60% bar.
Ultimately, it all comes down to how you feel about the goat milk here. If you can take the goatiness, because it is the star of the show, then this is a creamy, delightful bar of chocolate. But I can understand how some people might be a little underwhelmed by a dark milk bar where dairy dominates over cacao.