Monday, 19 December 2011

Labooko - Peru Criollo 80%

Christmas tree is finally up along with loads of festive accoutrements that would put even Harvey Nichols shop window to shame......I wish in my wildest retail dreams!  I even found time to put up this Christmas wreath which I picked up at a local market.  I think you'll agree that its a bit different and fairly stunning.  I'm not sure how long it will last especially if the expected rains hit Essex today!  A 'back up' wreath of more traditional variety maybe required before in-laws arrive on the doorstep!

The Sunday papers contained more worrying news for the High Street sector with plenty of companies showing signs of stress.   A particularly startling statistic stated that 25,000 small business closed their doors this year.  In the chocolate sector Thorntons position looks particularly sticky, no pun intended, whilst Hotel Chocolat are taking advantage of improved rents and opening new stores.  I visited the Moorgate store recently and it's certainly much improved and brighter since they had the refit.  I'm all for trade with Europe but I for one am glad that we didn't join the monetary part of the Eurozone.  Even one of the guy's (Jacques Delors) who dreamt up the idea of a single currency is now having second thoughts!  

Fortunately there are lots of positive ideas coming out of Europe and at least we can turn to Austria's Herr Zotter for some great and wacky chocolate ideas.  

The Chocolate:  This particular chocolate is not wacky, it's rare, very rare.  The Criollo is the most vulnerable to disease and has the smallest yield.  However, it has great aromatic qualities that make it very sought after.  According to chocolate aficionados the modern 'Criollo' is a hybrid of Criollo and Trinitario.  According to the blurb Zotter obtained this blend with 40% white Criollo beans of the Porcelana (a single genetic variety of cocoa beans, with more than 90% of Criollo genes) variety from the cocoa farmers of Aprocap in Peru.  This cocoa was conched for 20 hours (Zotter's website states 20 minutes when the page is translated) Conching or kneading of the chocolate reduces acidity and allows aromas to develop. How long should you conch?

2 x 35gr solid chocolate bars
Organic and Fair Trade
Leather and tobacco are the first aromas to hit your senses.  I'm used to eating dark chocolate with cocoa contents of between 60% and 70% and I'm out of my comfort zone with this one.  A good piece of advice to follow, don't chomp your chocolate when tasting!  Just let it melt on your tongue and enjoy that liquid feeling. Liquorice, fruit and a very slight bitterness develop as the first chunk of chocolate delightfully envelops your senses.  This is one delicious bar of chocolate with a super smooth texture and flavours that just linger on your palette with only a hint of chalkiness. 9/10, Danke schoen Herr Zotter!

I couldn't find any retailers in the UK that sold this chocolate as described so you may have to buy direct from Zotter, €3.25 plus postage. Buy online from Zotter.  For a contrast you can buy two bars with different cocoa contents, one 60% and one 80% from Peru, from Green Tulip.


  1. Same here :)

    I'm out of my comfort zone with bars over 70-75%, but with these bars you don't actually get to feel the bitterness you'd expect to feel given the cocoa percentage. I think you describe the experience perfectly.

    The first time I tried a Labooko bar I couldn't help thinking it's a shame Zotter are best known for their hand-scooped bars which boast crazy combinations (some of which I find quite unfortunate and I would never touch, even though I'm convinced that the actual chocolate in the coating must be top quality) when these simple bars are absolutely wonderful.

    I tried the hand-scooped bars first (I picked a couple of fruity bars that were a bit unusual, but not really crazy) and I thought they were delicious, top quality chocolate, fillings worked really well... Half a year later, I tried my first Labooko bar and that was when I really had the "WOW!" reaction.

    The texture of a bar is very important to me, I like chocolate to be really, really smooth, so the Labooko bars are probably my favourite dark chocolate bars.

  2. The hand-scooped bars sound great but I'm always left a bit disappointed by them as they just go too far. Why spoil good chocolate? I have two bars sitting in my office awaiting review, Walnut and Marzipan and Strong Coffee. They might stay there a bit longer!