I heard about raw chocolate just before I left for my trip to Brooklyn. What is raw chocolate? Some people believe chocolate should be eaten raw…meaning it is gently or lightly roasted and can be in bean or bar form. The beans arey lightly roast the beans (up to ~122 degrees F), which purists believe allows the cacao bean to retain more of the antioxidants and nutrients like magnesium, sulfur, calcium and iron. I am currently looking for studies that show the effects of what happens to cacao beans when they are processed correctly (meaning not overly processed) versus lightly to see the retention rates of the nutrients of the beans. Updates will be posted when these studies are located and reviewed.
The article I read that got my interest in the first place was Chocolate in Brooklyn , which told me about a chocolate bar called Fine & Raw . I got this 78% and Nibs bar at Marlow and Sons while out visiting the Brooklyn area of NY. The Fine & Raw site states, “Crafted using conscious ingredients with artisan low heat techniques to keep raw vitality.” I was interested to taste this bar. The idea of enjoying chocolate in its raw state is intriguing. Cacao gets pretty toasty during fermentation, which is done to reduce the astringency (dryness) of the cacao beans. During this process the temperature can reach up to 140 degrees F, which already is above the “preferred” temperature for raw foodies. It is possible to source unfermented beans, but that would mean a bean with less flavor and more astringency. I personally would opt for more flavor in my chocolate.
Raw chocolate enthusiasts say roasting the cacao beans to high temperatures removes the health benefits inherent in the bean. Many people think of eating chocolate as a “guilty pleasure” because of the junk food association it has with the over-processed commercial chocolate that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth or contains lots of sugar and flavorings to hide the poor quality. We’d have to see how this raw chocolate bar stacks up to the premium chocolate bars Drexelius Chocolates carries that have been carefully processed to bring out the finest flavors and characteristics of the cacao bean.
The bar is very visually striking. The outer wrapper is a thick, unbleached, natural paper. The gold foil inner wrapper makes you feel like you are opening a wonderful present. Unlike some other bars I have opened, it doesn’t have that “pow” aroma. It broke easily and had a crumbly, raw texture –> not really smooth like some bars you may be used to eating. This was expected since the name of the company is Fine & Raw and I am eating raw chocolate. The main thing missing from this experience: flavor. It just never happened for me. I gave it a few tries, too. The bar just came and went. Lifeless.
Post tasting (5.28.09): Actually, there was a hint of flavor. I went back and tried it again. I did notice a red berry note with a bitter aftertaste. It also left a dirt taste in my mouth that I had to wash out.
Oh, well. I tried. And I will gladly try again!
Have you gotten a chance to try one of these bars? What do you think?