This is one of Hotel Chocolat’s relatively new ‘Rabot 1745′ range, the new name for their single origin bars.
The ‘Island Growers’ moniker signifies this bar is made from Saint Lucia beans sourced from estates around Hotel Chocolat’s own Rabot Estate, rather than using the Rabot beans themselves. The beans fermented and dried centrally at the Rabot Estate, before (as I understand it) being shipped to the UK, where the chocolate is made from the bean.
What I particularly like about this bar is the wealth of information provided on the wrapper. With some chocolates, you’re lucky to find the cocoa content listed, but with this bar we have cocoa content, origin, harvest date, conche time, roast time, roast temperature and the name of the chocolate maker. That’s a lot of information!
For the average person, it might be a little overwhelming, but I like to think it will pique the curiosity and encourage people to find out a little more about what the numbers mean and how they affect the finished product.
The numbers that interest me most on this Island Growers bar are the roast time and temperature as the chocolate has a very strong roasted, almost smoky flavour. A smoky flavour on chocolate is often a bad sign, as it can mean the beans have been over-roasted, or that they’ve been dried artificially by fire and the flavour has been contaminated with smoke.
I don’t think that’s the case here though – I think the beans have just been roasted a bit longer than they normally would be. The resulting flavour might not appeal to everyone, but I find it unusual and quite moreish.
Of course, the real talking point of this bar is that it’s a milk chocolate with a whopping 70% cocoa solids. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for milk solids – just 12%, in fact. The result is more like a dark chocolate with a hint of creaminess, rather than a real milk chocolate.
Technically, the chocolate would probably be a little more approachable if the milk solids were replaced with sugar, so this probably isn’t the best way into dark chocolate if you’re a milk chocolate love. The result is interesting and actually quite tasty, but it’s probably more of an experiment than anything else. It’s worth trying though, if only to see just how different a milk chocolate can be.