After my recent forays into Filipino chocolate tablea, I assumed that the tablea were the only source of Filipino-grown cacao that I could easily get my hands on. And while tablea are wonderful for making hot chocolate, champorado, and tsokolate ice cream, the powdery discs themselves aren't exactly something on which one can nibble for a quick chocolate fix.
Luckily for me, however, the Burnt Lumpia Worldwide Headquarters recently received three chocolate bars from the fine folks at Askinosie Chocolate--a small batch chocolate manufacturer based in Springfield, Missouri.
One of the many things that sets Askinosie apart from other artisan chocolate makers is that Askinosie sources 100% of its cacao beans directly from the farmers. All of their chocolate bars are made from authentic, traceable, single origin beans sourced in Mexico, Ecuador, and yup, the Philippines! In fact, Askinosie is the first chocolate maker to export cocoa beans from the Philippines in almost 25 years. In addition, Askinosie also pays its farmers above Fair Trade prices, as well as profit shares net 10% with its farmers.
"That's all fine and dandy," you might be saying, "but how does the chocolate taste?!!"
Well, the Askinosie chocolate I received was made from cacao beans grown in the Davao region of the Philippines. Among the three different chocolate bars was the 77% Davao Dark Chocolate bar, the Davao Dark Milk Chocolate bar with Fleur de Sel, and the Davao White Chocolate bar. And like all Askinosie chocolate bars, a picture of the local lead farmer is emblazoned on the Davao chocolate bar labels, as well as the bean origin, variety, and date the chocolate bar was made.
Darkness, everyone! Darkness!
77% Davao Dark Chocolate: The dark chocolate bar is composed of 77% Davao cocoa beans, 23% organic cane sugar, and, and, and that's it! Just chocolate and sugar! Askinosie does not add any vanilla or soy lecithin (very common chocolate ingredients) to any of its chocolate at all.
Although I'm not usually a dark chocolate fan, the Davao dark chocolate is incredibly rich and delicious. There's a good snap when biting into the chocolate, and as it slowly melts in the mouth there is a pleasant chocolate-coffee bitterness to it--but it wasn't as bitter as I thought it would be, which was a good thing to me.
Mmm. Sea salt, goat milk, and chocolate, together at last.
Davao Dark Milk Chocolate with Fleur de Sel: This chocolate bar is made up of 62% Davao cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, goat's milk powder, and a touch of sea salt. Although I'm fairly certain the goat's milk powder is from American goats (I'm assuming this), it would be fairly awesome to effing awesome if the goat milk came from some mangy free-roaming kalding from the Filipino countryside.
As far as flavor goes, this chocolate is ridiculously good. To me, there was a definite "funk" (a good tasty funk, at that) to the chocolate that I attributed to the goat's milk powder, but the wife said she detected no funk at all. The salt is barely there, but it is noticeable on the finish as it balances nicely with the bitterness and sweetness of the chocolate. This was my definite favorite of the three.
Davao White Chocolate: The white chocolate bar is composed of 34% cocoa butter (made from Davao cocoa beans, but pressed at the Askinosie factory), organic cane sugar, and goat's milk powder.
Of course, the white chocolate was the sweetest of the three chocolate bars. There was also more of a distinct "funk" on the nose, as well as a nice dairy tanginess on the palate--but like I said earlier, it's a good goat-y funk. The Davao white chocolate is incredibly creamy, rich and sweet, and was the wife's hands-down favorite.
Although the 3-ounce bars may seem expensive as they sell for $8.00 apiece, I do think these chocolates are well-worth the price considering the quality and flavor, as well as the small cut the farmers get. And while 3 ounces may seem a paltry amount, it's not like these are the sorts of chocolates you'd eat all in one sitting. I've actually been enjoying my chocolates a square at a time: one night with a fruity zin (ooh lar lar), another night with a good stout (imperial!), and right now with some bourbon, neat (very, very relaxing).
And now dear readers, you can also have a taste of these Askinosie chocolates as I will be giving away TWO (2) Davao chocolate bars (the dark chocolate, and the milk chocolate, no white chocolate) to one lucky reader. For a chance to win the TWO Askinosie chocolate bars, just leave a comment on this blog post telling me how you'd enjoy your Davao Dark Chocolate and Davao Milk Chocolate bars--i.e. with some liquor like me, a glass of milk, melted into something else, etc.
All comments for this post will be accepted as entry for the giveaway and this contest will end on Sunday May 2, 2010 at 11:59 PM Pacific time. I'll randomly select one winner and announce the winner later that week. Sorry, this contest is open to U.S. residents only.
Full Disclosure: Yes, I received these chocolates for free from Askinosie, but I was under no obligation to write about them, review the products, etc. I chose to feature the chocolates here because I did enjoy them, and because of the connection to Filipino farmers and Filipino products. So there.