Note: You can read Simon’s review of the Strawberry & Pepper block here.
Lovely, kind, talented and generous chocablog reader Hannah read my tepid review on Hachez’s sea salt and tomato block a while ago and said that she’d found some other flavours in their range that seemed a lot more appealing. We’ve made a deal where she agreed to post me some from Canberra and I’ll find something equally unusual-but-delicious for her in return.
Hannah sent me two dark Hachez Cocoa d’Arriba blocks that use beans from Ecuador. Hachez’s website states that they make their chocolate direct from the cocoa beans that are exported from Ecuador in jute sacks direct to their factory in Bremen. This is comforting because manufacturers who make it ‘from scratch’ tend to be more loving in their preparation. Hachez don’t disappoint, as they conch (warm and mix) the cocoa liquor for three days instead of the eight hours of larger conglomerates which makes a much smoother and richer chocolate.
Considering that these blocks have travelled by shipping container from Europe to Australia on the high seas, been unpacked in a Canberra shop, purchased and wrapped in an postpak and sent on to Melbourne, they’ve survived remarkably well.
Hachez ‘Cocoa d’Arriba’ is their range of mild superior dark chocolate that all contain at least 77% cocoa solids and have a range of flavours. As you can see, the chocolate is still glossy (remarkable considering the miles it’s travelled) and beautifully dark, almost black.
The Strawberry & Pepper (on the left) smelled faintly of strawberry when it was unwrapped and snapped cleanly. In the mouth, it is the strawberry flavour that emerges first but not overpoweringly so. It then allows the fine dark chocolate to come to the forefront and enables the strong cocoa content to be fully noticed and appreciated. A few moments later, a slight peppery tingle makes its presence felt with some crunchy green peppercorn pieces to nibble on after the chocolate has disappeared.
Blackberry and Cocoa Nibs sounded even more interesting. As with the strawberry, it was the blackberry that I could detect first, then the melting richness of the chocolate and the scattering of crunchy cocoa nibs. This one was much harder to let melt slowly in the mouth because it was so much more fun to chew it and enjoy nibbling the nibs as they provided a tiny but strong burst of flavour to the very end.
These two blocks are really, really good. Neither are overly sweet and have ‘real’ ingredients that highlight the quality of the dark chocolate used and the flavours chosen by Hachez enhance rather than fight the main ingredient. Thanks, Hannah!