64% Papua New Guinea Cacao
Cacao from Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a great example of how processing cacao develops flavor. Wood fires are used to dry the fermented beans instead of the sun. As beans are still wet for the fermenting juice smoke will cling to the cocoa bean and add a smokey almost barbecue essence to chocolate. Some chocolate lovers dig it, and some do not. For us, its a chocolate that a chocolate maker from Texas should have in their line up.
We are now making two different PNG single origin dark chocolates and the differences are really dramatic. The first chocolate we made was a 70% dark. I like to compare apples to apples when comes to single origin chocolate, and since we make several 70% dark chocolates this is where I started.
One thing I find interesting about PNG is there is a big fruity note there behind the smoke in our 70% Ysleta bar and the color of the chocolate is a deep brick red when melted. The level of smokiness will vary from sack to sack unfortunately. Sometimes when we open a new sack you would think you were on a camping trip sitting by the fire. Then other sacks are very mild in smoke aroma. This variance is within the lots that we get so it’s something out of our control, but it makes for great exploration.
We’ve been receiving nice comments on our DR-62, so I decided a little sweeter version of PNG would be interesting. We tested various sugar percentages and ended up at PNG-64.
It just seemed like the right balance and PNG-64 is amazingly different that PNG-70. Honey is the first thing that came to mind when tasting this chocolate. Flavors like waffles, cherries, brandy, and a subtle hint of smoke are present. Chef Greg said it reminded him of a brandy cherry sauce he makes for his roast duck dish.
While I love to use nearly undetectable amount of whole vanilla bean, for PNG-64 I went with use cacao and pure cane sugar. We do add some extra cocoa butter to this chocolate. Chocolate with 36% sugar can get thick and heavy, so the extra cocoa butter helps since we do not use any soy lecithin in our chocolate as a viscosity enhancer.
The ingredient list and playful tasting notes:
To actually grill honeycomb would be an interesting challenge. I need to try this. The flavor I imagine from grilled honeycomb is in this chocolate even though I’ve never had charcoal grilled honeycomb. It’s that light and lovely smokiness from grilling food on charcoal that I detect in this chocolate.
Isn’t wonderful how cocoa beans and sugar can create such great flavor. PNG-64 is a rich chocolate. So rich that it tickles the back of my throat the way mom’s fudge can do sometimes. The honey, waffle, and smoke is such an interesting combination of flavors.