The Quest for Great American Chocolate: Bar None

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Los Angeles Times
SAN FRANCISCO ó One bar at a time, American chocolate makers are producing excellent chocolate. Here are a few notable bars from small producers using great beans. At a time when the mass market is crowded with bars labeled “single origin” (which doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality of the chocolate), these are handcrafted standouts.
– Amano Artisan Chocolate Ocumare, 70 percent: An elegant chocolate bar, with floral and fruit aromas and subtle flavors of plum and almond. Not as fruity as the chocolate maker’s Madagascar and not as earthy as its limited-edition Cuyagua, it’s well-balanced and classic. Very smooth and creamy-textured. The finish is pleasantly bitter. 2 ounces, $6.95,
– DeVries Chocolate Costa Rican Trinitario, 77 percent: Robust chocolate and fruit aromas. It’s a bold, intense chocolate bar with lots of complexity, big berry and tropical fruit flavors. There’s no added cocoa butter or lecithin, so it has heft; it’s not creamy but melts cleanly. (And it makes an excellent chocolate for baking, such as chocolate sable cookies.) 2.3 ounces, $7.35,
– Patric Chocolate Madagascar Sambirano Valley, 67 percent and 70 percent: Chocolate maker Alan McClure makes two different bars from the same beans ó with 67 percent and 70 percent cacao content. Both have bright fruit flavors of plum and citrus with notes of leather. The 67 percent bar has added cocoa butter. 1.75 ounces, $5.75,
– Rogue Chocolatier Sambirano, 70 percent: Rogue’s Colin Gasko uses the same beans as McClure to different effect. Beautifully packaged, it’s also fruity ó really plummy with a hit of caramel and cedar on the finish. It’s also somewhat creamier than the Patric Sambirano bars. 2.12 ounces, $5.99,