My treat today hails from a small Italian chocolate producer from Pontedera near Pisa in Tuscany.
The Amadei Toscano Black 66% bar is a dark temptation slipped inside a royal green cardboard sleeve. Christmas has been and gone, but this is one present (to myself) I purposefully tucked away until the hubbub had died down.
Three bars form the Toscano Black line-up, with the proportions of cocoa beans and the percentage of cocoa solids varying from bar to bar. The 66% bar sits mid-way between the Toscano Black 63% bar and the Amadei Toscano Black 70% bar.
The packaging simply oozes quality. Thick, textured card forms an envelope, beneath which is a wealth of information (in English and Italian) about the Toscano Black 66% bar and other delights from the Amadei range.
The bar itself is dainty, weighing in at a miniscule 50 grams. But as they say, great things come in small packages, and this is very true here. 10 segments of sumptuous dark chocolate, stamped with ribbing and the Amadei branding, await you. If you are disciplined and can exercise self-restraint, you can stretch this out over as many tastings - but that will be tough as you'll soon discover. Even so, the clean-yet-firm snap makes it relatively easy to portion.
So, what was I to expect from this silver award winning bar in the London Academy of Chocolate Awards 2016? Well, if the ingredients list was anything to go by, simple, bold, and clean flavours.
Amadei Toscano Black 66% Ingredients:
Cocoa mass, Cane sugar, Cocoa butter, Vanilla. Minimum cocoa: 66%.
Such few ingredients is indicative of a very high quality chocolate. No fillers, no artificial sweeteners, and no artificial preservatives. Just four ingredients designed to let the blend of Trinitario and Criollo cocoa beans do all the talking.
Amedei Toscano Black 66% Review
The initial smell transports me instantly to a quaint chocolate factory, where the aroma of dark roasted cocoa beans circle in the air. Amadei reckons I should smell perfumes of autumn leaves, berries, and fine wood. I detected dark and earthy acrid notes behind the fruity, almost smokey, tones.
Regarding the flavour itself, the tasting notes simply suggest a "generous, fruity flavour." Biting into this chocolate, I expected a familiar taste to fill my mouth. But this expectation is curiously delayed. It takes a few seconds in the mouth to reveal any flavour whatsoever, and then suddenly there's a taste explosion. Sweet and fruity notes dominate, with an underlying earthy darkness to add just a hint of bitterness.
The most surprising aspect for me is the lack of the astringent aftertaste I normally associate with dark chocolate. I expected that to dog the aftertaste but the main flavours vanish in a flash, leaving a clean, smooth, and slightly acidic aftertaste to linger for some time.
Amedei Toscano Black 66% Review
RRP: £5.50 | Amedei | Shop now°
A dark and earthy bar with sweet, fruity notes that appear in a delayed fashion. It has just a hint of bitterness and a lovely clean finish.
Is this an exciting bar? For a purist, I would say yes. There's a lot going on in each bite, albeit delayed by a few seconds as you work through each bite. Amadei appears to have focussed on creating a clean tasting dark chocolate, and this one is certainly a great example. If you like your dark chocolate to pack a bitter punch then you may want to consider the 70% instead as this one rounds out cleanly.
So, who is this bar for? I'd say anyone who loves the flavour of dark chocolate but not necessarily the acrid aftertaste that is characteristically inherent. The perfectly-balanced Toscano Black 66% bar is not overly sweet nor bitter. It's well rounded with a clean finish, so it doesn't linger too long in the aftertaste. At £110 per kilogram, the price of this 50-gram feel-good bar makes it definitely one for the adults rather than the kids, and it is ideal as an indulgent treat now and again. Keep it in an airtight container and it'll last for ages. It's the perfect go-to for a well-deserved treat.
If you can, savour this bar in 10 five-gram portions. However, that delayed explosion of flavour will tempt you into trying another and another. Tasting is believing, after all!
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