Saturday, May 11, 2013

Antiqua Chocolate from Italy

Our contacts at Beviamo sent us samples of the products they sold.  We looked at the Dolci Liberta brand all ready but now it is time to post our feature about the  Antica Dolceria Bonajuto brand, another Italian chocolate company that boosts a long history of making our sacred substance into drinks and treats.  But this is more a review of Beviamo than the chocolate so our descriptions will be brief.  Here in this photo you can see the five products they sent in one grouping.

Searching for the brand on their website returns no results.  You have to look under Confectionery and then Chocolate to find it (along with the previous brand we featured from this UK reseller). I've done that search for you if you use this link.

The Xocoatl tin has six little cups of dark chocolate truffles with chili pepper.  If you let the chocolate melt in your mouth the spicy edge is very light but if you chew it the intensity builds up quite a bit.  You get to decide how much chili kick you want with these truffles.  The presentation is so cute in the white and light red paper cups.  In total this is only 1.1oz so the entire box is probably under 150 calories.  Plus you can reuse the tin if you want because the lip is fairly secure though easy to open at the same time.

Another spicy chocolate from Bonajuto is in a bar form labeled "Pure Dark Chocolate with White Pepper."  Made with 65% cacao this should be substantially more intense than the truffles though the pepper should make it fairly similar in terms of spiciness.  The 50 gram bar has four sections that break apart with a sharp snap.  It has a strong cocoa and light pepper scent to it, the chocolate is cool in my fingers.  A bite also makes a sharp span but the texture of the bar is a bit grainy though now unpleasantly so.  The chocolate's bitterness is really very smooth and there is no heat though I can taste the white pepper beneath the chocolate.  It is surprisingly mild and might appeal to people who like lower cacao percentages or even more intense milk chocolates.

The Pure Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon bar is 45% cacao, the lowest percentage of the four bars we were sent, is in a red box.  It has four sections marked off, each of 0.88 ounce since the entire bar is 3.5oz.  Oddly this bar does not have a cinnamon fragrance nor much of a cocoa one either.  The sections take a bit of effort to break off and they are thick, 1/2 inch, though as you can see in the photo it is not a perfect block since the sides slope in from the bottom.  The bar when I open it shows some signs of bloom and when I check the "best by date" it is the same month I received and tested this.  The result is a bar that is not smooth and very grainy though the cinnamon and the chocolate flavor do blend well.  Since we know that we keep products safely and test them by the "best by dates" this either reflects problems with shipping over seas or storage problems before shipping.

If hot spices don't do it for you, you can try the Pure Dark Chocolate with Lemon Peel that has 65% cacao again.  Picking up a section I can smell the dark chocolate very well and there is a hint of something citrus.  The bar makes a snap when I break off a section and again when I take a bite.  Like the previous bars this one has a gritty texture that is distracting.  The lemon is very strong but it does not overwhelm the chocolate only softens the edges of what seems to be a more bitter taste that the other bars even though I know the percentage is the same as the white pepper variety.  By the time I finish one section I also am finding other textures inside this bar, something a touch chewy that gives a burst of more lemon when I bite into it that must be the lemon peel I see on the ingredients list. I think I would appreciate the lemon peel's texture more if the grittiness of the bar itself wasn't there.

Finally we have the Pure Dark Chocolate with Marjoram a spice we do not encounter very often in  the chocolate we are sent to feature.  Looking into marjoram I learned that the wild version is often called oregano and has an sweet, mild flavor very similar to this common Italian spice.  Identical to the other bars in terms of basic shape and sectioning, this one has a dark chocolate fragrance with a definite hint of oregano when I bring one section closer to my nose. A sections breaks off easily and there is a loud snap when I take a bite.  Once again the chocolate is a bit gritty but this time the chocolate is the secondary then final flavor with a burst of oregano essence to start off the tasting. The marjoram is very subtle so even if you aren't a huge oregano fan it really shouldn't matter.

The grittiness of these chocolates may be their greatest problem for an American consumer.  Now it is very true that older methods of creating chocolate will result in gritty textures compared to what we are used to and the point of the bars above is to be use traditional recipes and methods however there was enough difference in the level of grittiness that it makes me wonder if some were damaged in some point in transport.  (Beviamo representative tells me it is a result of lower temperatures and not beating out the chocolate but since this is a review of the retailer not the chocolate itself, there was no information on the website about how this is made.) In terms of taste the added flavors were subtle allowing the pure nature of the chocolate to come through.  If you live in or near the UK, Beviamo specializes in bringing Italian treats to your door.  If you don't live in the UK you can still check them out and order but it costs more.  I know that Beviamo is looking for American contacts as well so if you are wholeseller consider contacting them not only for the chocolate brands they represent but also the other goods they can offer.

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