This bar was a gift from Chocablog advertiser Chocolatiers, an online chocolate retailer specialising in fine chocolate bars. Somebody clearly knows about my love of Madagascan chocolate!
Menakao is a Madagascan bean-to-bar chocolate. The chocolate is produced on the island rather than the beans being shipped off to a factory somewhere else. Obviously, that’s better for the environment and the local economy as more of the profits go back to the people who actually matter. But this kind of approach can often result in a better chocolate. A little local knowledge is combined with direct contact between the farmer and the chocolate maker. It’s how all chocolate should be made.
The packaging is simple, if a little rustic, which coincidentally is exactly the wording they use on the back of the box to describe the chocolate.
My first thoughts on opening were that the flavours are probably going to be a little bit too much. Madagascan cacao has very vibrant and distinctive flavour notes, and the addition of both nibs and salt are only going to intensify that. But still I couldn’t wait to try it.
As you can see, the chocolate certainly lives up to the ‘rustic’ monicker. I’m sure there were less loose ‘bits’ when it left the factory, but I have to say I quite like the way it looks. It has the appearance of something that has been made by hand, rather than an intensely glossy high end chocolate.
The nibs are embedded into the underside of the bar and only add to the rustic appeal for me.
The flavour is wonderful. It’s rich and fruity, almost tasting of fresh orange. I can’t really taste the salt, but I can only assume it’s what’s helping lift those fruity notes to a different level. It has a little less acidity than most of the intensely citrus Madagascan chocolates I’ve tried, and it’s very easy to eat.
The texture and flavour of the nibs gives an added dimension as well. There’s a delicious crunch to the chocolate, and when everything else has melted away, you’re left with rich, intensely chocolately nibs. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the slightly sweet 63% chocolate.
I like this bar a lot. It’s certainly more rustic and perhaps not as rounded as other Madagascan chocolates, but it’s definitely a bar you should try. And at £3.35 for 75g, the price is right too.