Chocolate aging breaks new record
Dark Chocolate Ages for 3 Years in Ecuador Andean Alder and Cognac Cask Matured
By: To'ak Chocolate
To'ak's mission is to elevate the making and tasting of dark chocolate onto the level of vintage wine and aged whisky. These two new editions, which represent To'ak's most refined expressions of Ecuadorian dark chocolate thus far, set a new standard for artisanal chocolate production in the world today. Flavor notes offered by the co-founders are as follows:
COGNAC CASK MATURED 3 YEARS
"Of all the spirits that we paired our 2014 harvest with, Cognac was generally the best partner", says Jerry Toth. To'ak was able to get their hands on a 50-year-old Cognac cask made of French oak from the Limousine forest in France. The cask most recently contained an eau de vie that was distilled in the mid-1970s and emptied in 2013 for a limited bottling sold to private collectors. To'ak used it to age their dark chocolate for three years. It turns out that Ecuadorian dark chocolate infused with the aroma of Cognac is a match made in heaven. "The fragrance of this edition exceeds even our loftiest expectations. On the palette, deep notes of dark fruit rise to the fore, with a silky undertone and long sumptuous finish" says Jerry. Carl Schweizer describes the organoleptic ride offered by this edition as "Tobacco, sweet plum, raisins enter on the mid-palate, while a slightly acidic cranberry twist accompanies a creamy hazelnut, and plum/raisins linger until a buttery-creamy finish". Schweizer says "Even new initiates to Ecuadorian dark chocolate will fall in love with this edition".
ANDEAN ALDER MATURED 3 YEARS
The mid elevations of the Andes Mountains in South America host the wild Andean alder (Alnus acuminata). Just like oak, this type of wood is rich in tannins and has traditionally been used to tan leather. Toth says "For three years, our Vintage 2014 chocolate lived inside four different wood vessels. Two and a half years into the experiment, we sat down with our intimate panel of flavor analysts and conducted a blind aroma test; everyone unanimously agreed that the most flavorful of the wood-aged chocolates, at this particular juncture, was that which had been maturing in Andean alder".
Schweizer describes the aromas liberated while the chocolate melts in the mouth: "Tannic opening, wood fire (charcoal/smoke)
AGING CHOCOLATE LIKE WINE
To'ak was the first chocolate brand to comprehensively experiment with the long-term aging of dark chocolate in the style of wine and whisky. It launched its first aged edition at the beginning of 2016, which has sold out. To'ak pioneered this practice with the support of enology researchers at Washington State University and U.C. California, Davis.
Chocolate and wine are both liberally endowed with tannins and other polyphenols, which largely determine flavor profile and mouth feel. These compounds, also called flavonoids, are chemically altered through processes such as oxidation over the course of time. Extractable compounds from oak barrels and other wood vessels used for aging add another layer of complexity. As a result, the aroma and flavor profile of dark chocolate evolves through maturation.
CACAO NACIONAL – THE MOST ANCIENT CACAO IN THE WORLD
To'ak chocolate is made from the extremely rare Ecuadorian cacao variety called "Nacional," which traces its genetic lineage back at least 5,300 years—to the first known cacao trees domesticated by humanity. This famed variety was believed to be extinct as of ten years ago. To'ak has since found a valley with 100-year-old cacao trees that have been confirmed by DNA tests to be 100% pure Nacional. Specifically, To'ak's cacao is sourced exclusively from 14 cacao growers in the secluded valley of Piedra de Plata, Ecuador, from cacao pods that match the morphological and color profile of Ancient Nacional cacao referenced from DNA testing. In 2016, To'ak's cacao received the prestigious Heirloom designation from the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund.
THE CHOCOLATE EXPERIENCE
Each bar of To'ak Chocolate is packaged in a hand-crafted Spanish Elm wood box with the individual bar number engraved on the back. Inside each box is a booklet that explains the science behind dark chocolate aging and its commonalities with the aging of wine and whisky. Tasting utensils are also included, to aid in the exploration of delicate aromas for which Ecuadorian cacao has long been cherished.
To'ak was born from a rainforest conservation project in Ecuador, in a province which is to cacao what the French province of Burgundy is to wine. This is where co-founder Jerry Toth first began cultivating cacao and experimenting with chocolate—specifically, in a thatched bamboo house secluded in the middle of the forested mountains of the Jama-Coaque Reserve. The powerfully floral aroma that wafted from the beans he grinded by hand was his first clue that Ecuadorian cacao is like no other earth. Jerry subsequently connected with co-founder Carl Schweizer and fourth-generation Ecuadorian cacao grower Servio Pachard. Their mission is to change the way the world experiences dark chocolate.
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To'ak Chocolate can be purchased online at toakchocolate.com or at select retailers in the U.S and at Harrods in London.
Facebook and Twitter handle: is @ToakChocolate
Contact: Eddie Pezzopane, firstname.lastname@example.org