Monday, May 2, 2011

Olive & Sinclair: 67% Cocoa Salt and Pepper Bar

In yet another blogger chocolate exchange, which is quickly becoming a routine activity in my life, I sent the Potomac Chocolate 82% bar that I have a chocolate bar crush on to Heather. Since she is Nashville-based, she sent me a Salt and Pepper bar from Nashville-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker Olive & Sinclair in return.

Heather procured this 67% cocoa dark chocolate-based bar for me because I’d expressed interest in it based on my pleasant experience with the Taza Salt and Pepper Mexicano Disc. Upon opening the bar, a notable peppery aroma emerges, as does a hint of nondescript fruitiness.

With the salt and pepper scattered on the back of the bar rather than throughout the bar, the tasting experience in this instance was appreciably different. Rather than experiencing a bit of salt and pepper throughout the melt of the chocolate, the taste is very salty and first, and the pepper is not apparent until the end of the melt, when it fully dominates the flavor.

It’s difficult to tease out specific chocolate flavors except in the lull between the salt and the pepper phases, when citrus flavors are notable and cherry and coffee undertones can be teased out. The melt is slow and smooth, but just a tiny bit dry. The phased flavor experience is interesting and makes for a more varied experience, but I wonder how the flavors would blend if the salt and pepper were better incorporated into the bar. This could also reduce the perceived dryness in the melt, which might be due to the immediate impact of the salt.

The bar is intriguing and the variety of flavors throughout the melt is a different experience. I’d still like to see Olive & Sinclair take the blended approach to offering salt and pepper in their line of bean-to-bar chocolate.

Should chocolate makers ensure that their ingredients are well-distributed throughout a bar?

14 comments:

  1. I've had a salt and pepper chocolate bar before by Salazon, and they too had the salt and pepper sprinkled on the back rather than integrated. Luckily, it was evenly distributed in that case though!

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  2. Yes, I'd rather have it well-distributed throughout the bar. Otherwise, I would just sprinkle salt and pepper on my Baker's, and that's not much fun. ;)

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  3. I'm interested to know how you eat this. Do you put the salt/pepper or the chocolate side to your tongue? I think chocolate side down could give you a chance to taste the chocolate before getting into the salt & pepper and may be an interesting progression. This is how I've started to taste any chocolate with stuff on the back.

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  4. tough call as i am not a maker of chocolate bars, but i bet it'd be better for their product to have everything well distributed! sounds like an interesting combo :)

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  5. Yes, the ingredients make all the difference. I would want chunks of a flavor in one certain spot it would taste too funny.

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  6. Seems to me a good distribution would be preferable, but I still haven't sought out chocolate bars with salt and pepper in them yet. Also, I really like the packaging of the bar. :)

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  7. I'm not really a huge fan of pepper but if I did, I feel like I'd want it throughout the whole bar.

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  8. Unlike Hannah, I was disappointed by Salazon. Their salt has seemed way too thick for me. That hasn't stopped me from trying all four of their flavors, though.

    However, I think my disappointment was partly due to how I ate the bar, as Ben mentioned above. I've since started tasting this type of chocolate choc side down, and it's helped me appreciate the craftsmanship, rather than simply complain that there is too much flavor for me.

    I'm excited for later in May when I will travel to this exotic southern land, where Olive & Sinclair chocolates will be readily available to me!

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  9. @Ben I usually try it both ways. If the bar is soft and has a relatively quick melt, the "salt side up" strategy works. In this case, the melt was really slow (really slow), so it muted the flavor-series effect, but didn't get rid of it.

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  10. I was considering carrying Olive & Sinclair chocolate on my website but the product shown on your pics is not very appealing and indeed I too am not in love with the way ingredients are mixed. I might be pushing the reasoning a bit too far but why not buying a cheaper plain bar and seasoning it with your own salt and pepper then? :)
    I'd love to see an Olive & Sinclair representative comment on this thread.

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  11. Ooh sounds an interesting bar, i like it when things are well dispersed throughout the bar, think each bite should have a good flavour of whatever it is meant to incorporate.

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  12. The packaging and the bar itself remind me of soap...in a positive way? Also, I keep meaning to tell you that my fancy supermarket now carries those Taza discs!

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  13. We season the back of the bar in efforts to highlight certain and enhance flavors but not to make the bar taste like "salt & Pepper, which in our R&D when it was mixed throughout, it somewhat did. More so the black pepper. Its a classic seasoning on a somewhat "classic" chocolate flavor profile.In this we use beans from Ghana for that reason. We season it as you would a tomato, which allows us to get the salt first, and the black pepper really just adds a little to the finish. In this we use beans from Ghana for that reason.

    I agree the pic makes it look very scratchy, and mishandled, but we can assure folks that when we package the bars and ship them they are handled very carefully and have a nice sheen & snap.

    We have had great success with it and really enjoy snacking on this bar! That being said, we know it's not for everyone, which for us is totally ok!

    We're doing the same treatment on a S&P Buttermilk-White bar scheduled to come out before the fall! We're excited about this one too!

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  14. p.s. Sorry for the delay! Never saw this post!

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