Sometimes it takes a village! The quest to locate a chocolate bar from a company that starts with the letter “Q” for the Eating the Chocolate Alphabet project has been daunting. For a while, I thought that it was an impossible mission. Over the last nine months, I’ve been very fortunate to find kindred spirits and genuinely supportive camaraderie within the chocolate community! Just last week, Sophia from Projet Chocolat generously overnighted me a bar from her stash in the nick of time to ensure that this letter of the alphabet would be covered!
So, a few days ago, at the beginning of “Q” week, I excitedly pulled the bar from my wine fridge storage & started my Monday morning routine. The filtered light was perfect for taking pictures of the packaging. There I was happily taking photos, getting on the internet to locate the company’s website + other articles that I could use to further research their backstory and then…WAIT a minute…am I seeing things correctly? Both the company URL and their Instagram account referred to the company name as “Chocolate Q” instead of “Q Chocolate.” I immediate sent my boyfriend a couple of panicked text messages. He tried to assure me that it’s just the translation from Portuguese to English…I wasn’t convinced. Maybe I’m the only one that’s really concerned (“obsessed” might be the better word) with strict adherence to the alphabet. In my mind, this was “Naive Chocolate” vs. “Chocolate Naive” all over again…so it was with a heavy heart that I had to return this bar to wine fridge storage until today.
Just looking at the copper stamped logo and the Claudio Novaes artwork that graces the outside of the packaging, you can almost feel the shimmering heat and hear the sounds from the fauna that dwell at the Fazenda Leolinda in the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil where the Trinitario and Forasteiro cacao beans are grown. The Aquim family is passionate about chocolate and has a very hands-on approach to all aspects of “the Q process.”
Despite Brazil being one of the top growers of cacao, there was a time when Brazilian chocolates were not note-worthy, since local tastes tended toward mass-produced chocolates. Since 2011, the Aquims’ goal has been to preserve the true taste of cacao (their tagline translates to “chocolate in its essence”), so their bars are made with just 3 ingredients: cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and a pinch of sugar. The Q Collection includes 6 dark chocolate bars of successively intense cacao content, starting with 55% and increasing by increments of 5% to 85% (interestingly, 70% is not one of the percentages offered).
In addition to the chocolate itself, I received a bar-sized piece of wood imprinted with the phrase that translates roughly to “sublime and revealing experience.” I’m not quite sure of the board’s true purpose, since I certainly wouldn’t want to get it dirty with chocolate stains! Nevertheless, I’m sure that it helped keep the bar intact during shipping between Nashville, TN and Southern California.
The simple design of the outer packaging has a notch to help keep the box closed after being opened.
Once you open the outer cardboard packaging, you see the bar wrapped in a sealed shiny gold foil pouch. Since the bar is slightly smaller than the outer packaging, I wonder if this contributed to the blemishes and chocolate “dust” that appeared on the unwrapped chocolate bar.
This bar may have been my first encounter with Brazilian chocolate. Upon opening the foil wrapping, the aroma of olives was surprising. The bar’s mold is comprised of several rectangle sizes – all the better to choose how much you want to enjoy in a given sitting. While there was a medium to dull snap to the bar, I was surprised to see some “striation”: part of the piece looked smooth, then there was a dividing line and then the rest of the piece looked a little gritty.
The visual textural appearance seemed to vary a bit from piece to piece, yet this did not affect the taste; each morsel was smooth, creamy and melted relatively quickly.
What started off as a bitter taste (earthy/woody/leathery), changed to fruity with hints of peppercorns. After trying the 65% bar, this makes me curious to try the other percentages as well.
Honestly, I’m still not clear if the company name is “Q Chocolate” or “Chocolate Q.” Regardless, this has definitely been a revelatory experience, just like the wooden board predicted.
To learn more about the various chocolates available + exclusive collections, check out: http://chocolateq.com/