As summer is drawing to a close, I couldn’t help but try a couple more of Chocotenango’s chocolate bars. I’ve already been hooked from the first time I tried his El Puro bar (that bar remains in my taste bud memories). If you haven’t heard of Chocotenango before, they are one of the few amazingly talented Washington, D.C., based chocolate makers that are local to me. I just realized that the two bars I got both contain spicy elements in them, so we’re heating things up before fall and cooler temperatures arrive!
If you want to learn more about Chocotenango and Ismael’s story for starting his chocolate making business, refer to some of my earlier posts. Otherwise, let’s jump into potentially setting our mouths on fire 🙂
Apparently Arabian Nights has been a crazy popular bar. I’ve seen it show up on Instagram from various chocoholics and all of them are singing praises. Arabian Nights is simply dark chocolate with cardamom. Specifically Dominican cacao with cardamom since Ismael only uses Dominican cacao as the base for all of his bars and bonbons. How could such a simple bar blow people away? Well, the scent is pretty delicious. I got a good whiff of cardamom spiciness when I opened up the packaging. There was a punch of cardamom flavor followed by sweetness and creaminess of the dark chocolate. Dark chocolate being creamy? That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of this chocolate as it’s melting on my tongue. The cardamom was not overwhelmingly spicy, but it was present enough that it kept my taste buds intrigued. I wasn’t able to taste any natural fruity flavors I usually taste in Ismael’s Dominican-based chocolate, but the smooth texture, sweetness and creaminess partnered well with the spicy cardamom that made me want to try more of this bar. I think I can see why people like it so much! The boyfriend said this bar reminded him of chai tea and he enjoyed the texture.
Next we’re trying Zanzibar, which contains nutmeg, sea salt and chili. Since this is a milk chocolate, I’m hoping to get a similar experience as I did with Arabian Nights having the creaminess of the chocolate balance out the spices. The nutmeg scent was prominent and reminded me of pumpkin pie (I’m drooling now). I tasted sea salt with nutmeg first followed by the creaminess of the milk chocolate and finally the heat of the the chili began to develop. I don’t think I can explain why, but the sea salt seems to help tie the nutmeg and chili together and the creaminess of the chocolate keeps my mouth from burning too much from the heat. I liked this bar a lot! There was an interesting balance of flavors and an overall good flavor story that developed as my bite melted. I feel like it’s so rare for me to find a spicy milk chocolate, and this bar helped feed my sweet tooth as well as my savory tooth all at once. I wish more chocolate makers would combine milk chocolate with spices since dark chocolate sometimes makes the flavor experience of strong herbs and spices too bitter. The boyfriend also tried this bar and said it had some gritty texture, but what he considered as “optimal grit.”
Ismael, once again I greatly enjoyed your chocolate! I hope to see him again in person when I can finally get myself to the Alexandria, VA, farmer’s market that takes place on Saturday mornings. I hope to eventually try the rest of his chocolate bars and see if any new bonbon flavors have come out.
Chocotenango: Made in Washington, D.C.
These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I did not receive pay or any compensation for reviewing any products. Website links to articles, companies and other sources of information directly related to the topic written within the posts were included during the time of writing and the writer will not be held responsible for future changes on such website links. All images are original and the property of Time To Eat Chocolate unless specifically stated otherwise.