Every now and again I get sent samples. What’s not to like about samples? The Australian importer of the Ki’Xocolatl range sent me some of their products to try – what a nice chap!
Checking their web site, Ki’Xocolatl seems to be a Belgian / Mexican chocolatier. Because there are quite a few products in the range, I thought it best to review half now, the other half will follow a little later.
Cocoa Beans Roasted Covered with Milk Chocolate
Crunchy cocoa nibs in a chocolate seem to have become fashionable in the last few years; and some are better than others. In some cases, the nibs kind of just disappear in the chocolate, becoming a kind of hard / crunchy texture but where the flavour is difficult to determine.
So it is nice, then, to have something completely different. These cocoa beans would seem to be pieces of a cocoa bean, roasted, and coated in a 36% milk chocolate; a little like a coffee bean coated in chocolate, except it is coated cocoa pieces.
The first thing to notice about these little marvels is the size: small – smaller than a pea. Eating just one is not possible – it’s best to pour a handful and snuffle them down. But then wait… let the flavour develop. The milk chocolate coating is quite sweet – but pleasantly so, not excessively. There’s also a slight fruity flavour that reminds me of a good aromatic plum or apricot jam. As this melts away, the harder cocoa bean is left. Crunching it up reveals an unusual texture – normal for cocoa beans, but unusual nonetheless, along with a subtle burst of a deeper, more complex cocoa flavour and slight bitterness which wells up, rushes past, and then slowly fades and lingers.
I took these in to the office and plonked them on the table during a meeting. It was interesting watching the reaction: the dark chocolate hater went back for more. And one of the other chaps kept scarfing them down as kids would lollies. At the end of the meeting his remark was: I could eat the packet in a sitting!
This is one of the best cocoa bean / cocoa nib products I’ve tried.
Dark Chocolate with Pink Pepper from Veracruz
This 70% chocolate contains pink peppercorns. I don’t actually know what they are, but they certainly give this chocolate a quite strong, slightly peppery, fruity aroma. When tasting, the unusual flavour really jumps out.
A quick diversion into peppers. I take “pepper” to be a generic term which includes chillies and capsicum, as well as the better known white and black pepper from peppercorns. In this chocolate, the pepper is reminiscent of a good freshly ground black pepper, but more subtle, more aromatic, and quite a lot more fruity.
The combination works! Unlike many eating chocolates where it’s possible to scarf down a block at a sitting through sheer greed, the stronger flavours here encourage moderation, and eating it slowly. Some might not like the flavour – but I do – but in smaller doses.
This is one I took to a meeting in the office as well. Talk about mixed reaction: I had one “hmm, not sure”, another “ok, but not to my taste”, and the dark chocolate hater kept going back for more and more – she loved it.
If you want something interesting an unusual, hunt this down.
Milk Chocolate (Sugar Free)
This one comes with a mystery. It is sugar-free, and uses our old friend Maltitol as the sweetening agent. At the same time it is certified organic. How can one have organic Maltitol? Perhaps the organic thingy just applies to the other ingredients. Whichever way, it seems a bit incongruous.
This is also the biggest disappointment – the chocolate is quite pale, and at 36% cocoa, it’s fairly mild and unchallenging. I can’t call this a bad chocolate, but neither does it have anything which leaps out and shouts at me in excitement: it is just a plain bar of milk chocolate. The others are better.