When I was first telling friends about the Eating the Chocolate Alphabet project, I was a little appalled when they asked: “You’re not going to feature Hershey’s for ‘H,’ are you?” That was the perfect opportunity to explain that my goal was to try chocolates that were new to me + I wanted to focus on non-mass produced chocolates (besides, my tastes evolved beyond Hershey’s YEARS ago!)
Since hummingbirds are one of my favorite birds to watch as they hover at a feeder, just the company name and the simplicity of the packaging design drew me to Hummingbird Chocolate Maker. But, then, I discovered that their chocolates were only available in New York or in Canada! Thanks Josh Rubin from Chocexchange for being my hero and expertly shipping the bar to California!
This particular bar is made with just two ingredients! Trinitario cacao beans + local maple syrup from Fulton’s Sugar Shack. I like that Hummingbird Chocolate’s packaging even features a photo from the 5th generation Fulton descendant running the maple production facility as a way to both honor their partner and provide transparency about the ingredient source.
What started out as a casual hobby, making the best chocolate possible in small batches has become a passion for husband-and-wife team Drew & Erica Gilmour in the Ottawa Valley of Ontario, Canada. They are industrious (like their namesake), without being industrial.
The inside of the outer label lists the 10 steps they take in the bean-to-bar process (this information is also shown in greater detail and with more photos on their website). My favorite part was seeing an illustration of a vintage melangeur (conching machine), the one used as part of a recent bean-to-bar class was tiny (and modern) in comparison!
The hummingbird graphic on the front of the outer packaging reminds me of Maori tattoo art, so I’m not sure what I was expecting the mold to look like.
What a surprise to peel back the gold foil wrapping to see a bar comprised of 8 squares of different heights and images imprinted on them. It reminded me of a childhood block puzzle that still needed to be re-arranged into a final cohesive image.
In a happy twist of fate, the chocolate bar had broken in such a way that if re-positioned, it almost looked like a bird with outstretched wings or a stealth bomber, depending on how you look at it! 😉
As I was taking photos, I enjoyed the enticing chocolate aroma. So, it surprised me that the first couple of bites produced a slightly bitter, fruity taste (like unripe raspberries). Though it doesn’t say so on the packaging itself, their website indicates that the Trinitario beans used for this bar come from Northern Dominican Republic, so that would explain the fruity notes. The bitterness faded and evolved into a fairly mild maple syrup flavor. As I continued to sample more squares, this time letting the chocolate melt in my mouth, it seemed like the maple sweetness was “cumulative” and it certainly seemed like it was heightened toward the end of my tasting. Surprisingly intense and complex for just two ingredients!
To read about all the awards they won this year (2016) from the UK-based Academy of Chocolate, go to: http://hummingbirdchocolate.com/press/