Back in 2008, I was given a bar of chocolate from Toronto’s Soma Chocolatemaker as a birthday gift. I didn’t really know too much about them, but the bar – their Dark Fire 66% – sounded interesting with its promised mix of cinnamon, chilli, ginger and other special spices. It turned out to be more than interesting – it was spectacular. I somehow managed to ration myself so it lasted a couple of days, and I even saved the wrapper so I could sniff it to remind me of the good times we spent together. And then I gushed about it to anyone who would listen (and quite a few people who wouldn’t…) for the next week or so. I was hooked. Naturally, I dropped plenty of hints that I would love some more, and this Christmas it paid off.
Their Exploration Box features four samples of their so-called microbatch bars, made in smaller quantities than many bigger companies. The samples aren’t huge – just eight squares – but more than enough to get an idea of what to expect. And it isn’t really a box either – the foil-wrapped squares are rolled in a funky-looking bamboo mat, but it makes for a unique way to present the chocolate.
The chocolate isn’t the glossiest around, but that might be down to the fact that it did travel before it reached my hands. Looking at the four kinds unwrapped in turn, we have Cocoa Latte 60% (top left), Green Tangerine 65% (top right), Dark Fire 66% (bottom left) and Black Science Madagascar 70% (bottom right). But let’s get to the tasting.
Cocoa Latte 60% – this one has a surprisingly high amount of cocoa for a milk chocolate, but one taste leaves absolutely no doubt because the dominant flavour is a rich creaminess. That’s about it though, making it a little one-dimensional. It would probably make good truffles because it could benefit from another flavour or some texture.
Green Tangerine 65% – the lack of a strong orangey smell suggests that this might be a little too subtle for its own good, but that isn’t the case. The tangerine flavour is accompanied by bursts of sweetness that are really surprising, and they mask the bitterness of the chocolate until the very end. Not your typical citrus chocolate at all, and really good.
Dark Fire 66% – again, the negligible aroma belies what lies ahead because the cinnamon appears almost instantly and continues to warm while the chilli slowly builds in intensity before taking over. The spices and bitter chocolate then dance around together before slowly fading away, leaving a lovely smouldering sensation in your mouth for quite a while afterwards. Just as good as I remembered.
Black Science Madagascar 70% – despite being the highest percentage in this collection, it isn’t the darkest in colour suggesting that this might not deliver on the 70% potential. But it does. It has lots of fruity notes, with cherry dominating, and it both starts and finishes strongly without much of a lull in between. Surprisingly, not a bitter chocolate at all.
And so that makes two very good chocolates, one good and one that I can take or leave and my potential obsession with Soma Chocolatemaker continues…