In the words of Taylor Kennedy, owner of Sirene Artisan Chocolate Makers in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, “Without a direct comparison, it is hard to understand that there is something different about chocolate.” To aid in the appreciation of the nuances between countries of origin, this particular box contains two different mini chocolate bars so that you can easily compare and contrast with minimal effort. Not only are both bars the same percentage (73%), but also they each only contain two ingredients (cacao beans & organic cane sugar) that way the natural flavors/characteristics of those beans can truly be showcased.
This morning on Instagram, The Chocolate Website recounted her dilemma of trying to identify 6 different chocolate bars once they were removed from their packaging. With this in mind, I really appreciated that each of the Sirene bars was wrapped in a different colored metallic foil (silver color for Ecuador and gold color for Madagascar)!
Choices, choices…which one to try first? After reading the tasting notes on the inside of the box flaps, I decided to try Ecuador first and then Madagascar…I think I made the right decision!
The Ecuadorian beans come from Camino Verde, a plantation in the town of Balao with trees that are close to 100 years old. According to the packaging, trees of this age yield beans with 10% less cocoa butter, which in turn produces a more intense cocoa flavor. True to that description, I could immediately see the deep, dark brown color and smell the earthy and roasted aroma upon unwrapping the chocolate.
Even though the bar is a little thick, there was a nice sharp snap when being segmented. Each of the 5 rectangles reminded me of a flag with alternating vertical and horizontal lines on each quadrant…it was fun to run my tongue along those ridges while I was melting each bite. There was a slow, even melt and the flavor was reminiscent of a not-too-sweet, nutty brownie with a long, satisfying finish.
Upon unwrapping the Madagascar bar, I noticed more chocolate “dust” clinging to the outside, possibly since one of the rectangles had been broken in transit.
The snap of that particular rectangle felt a little dry/crumbly and there was only a mild aroma; however the taste was an explosion of bright fruits. Since I didn’t want to rely just on that first broken piece, I segmented another portion for comparison purposes. At the breaking point, there was a fresher roasted aroma and the flavor reminded me of a just squeezed lemon. This piece also had a more velvety smooth mouthfeel with an even melt and a long lasting tart aftertaste.
The Madagascar beans from the Akesson family’s Somia planation are lighter brown in color (perhaps because of being enriched with volcanic minerals), so there was no surprise that this bar looked more like milk chocolate compared to the Ecuador bar.
As a side note…maybe it’s just me, but I’m as fascinated with the undersides of bars as I am with the mold-imprinted side. Both bars seemed to have concentric “ripples” as if a pebble had been dropped at the edge of a lake…more than likely a final drip of liquid chocolate hit the mold & had not been vibrated to a completely smooth finish.
If “tasting pair boxes” aren’t your thing, don’t worry…other packages feature just the one origin or flavor. To find out more about Sirene and Taylor Kennedy’s background as a former world traveling photographer and writer for The National Geographic magazine, check out: http://sirenechocolate.com/