Chuao's claim to fame in the chocolate markets seems to be
their unusual flavors of truffles and chocolate bars. This
isn't a company that's going to grab you on the taste of a 41% milk chocolate bar working solo.
And, indeed, the Rocky Road fits the typical Chuao bill, incorporating ethically sourced cacao with higher quality fillings. The chocolate itself is good, but not great.
The vegan marshmallow and almond additions were what elevated this bar into a satisfying chocolate-eating candy experience.
It would have been a rockier road if the fillings were
price/gram: USD 0.063
Cocoa %: 41
The Chocolate Republic slowly
recovers from an interminable summer and beyond thanks to someone
we'll refer to as OptoJay. OptoJay works as an
optometrist in the Denver area. A month ago he
contacted me out of the blue to say that he and his wife
were journeying to the far reaches of Thailand for a 10 day
holiday. Was there anything he could bring us?
Gourmet chocolates and vodkas
topped the list. Among the more than dozen bars he
brought, a third were from this brand I'd never heard of
called Chuao. Chuao is actually a prized cacao-growing
region in Venezuela, where Amedei and Amano Artisan
Chocolate source some of their cacao beans.
Ironically, Chuao is not where Chuao Chocolatier sources
their own cacao. Their standard 41% milk chocolate is
comprised of a 60% mix of Latin American cacao beans, most
coming from Venezuela but not from the prized Chuao region.
Chuao is run by a pair of
Venezuelan bros. Michael Antonorsi is in charge of the
chocolate recipes, and his older brother Richard, chairman
of the board. The company opened up shop in 2002 with
a small shop in Encinitas, California and has since expanded
to three stores and a 9,000 square foot production facility.
I'd never heard of the brand.
Although it had been in production in 2005 when I last lived
in California, the bars at that point were not so popular to
be stocked in my local Whole Foods. Things are different
today. Chuao bars are now found in 5,000 retail
outlets coast to coast. They're evidently easy to find in
the Denver, Colorado area, where OptoJay scooped them up.
I selected Chuao's Ravishing
Rocky Road as the first entrant into the Chocolate Republic.
OptoJay hadn't brought a standard milk chocolate bar, which
would have been the ideal first taste. I could have
gauged just how delicious their Latin American blended milk
chocolate was on its own.
Based on what I've
discovered about Chuao since researching the company,
perhaps Rocky Road would have been the most indicative first
test anyway. Chuao's claim to fame in the
chocolate markets seems to be their unusual flavors of
truffles and chocolate bars.
This isn't a company that's going to grab you
on the taste of a 41% milk chocolate bar working solo.
And, indeed, the Rocky Road
fits the typical Chuao bill, incorporating ethically sourced
cacao with higher quality fillings. In the Rocky Road,
this includes salted caramelized almonds and vegan
The molding design of each
phenomenal, the larger bar comprised of a collection of
different chocopods. The chocolate itself is good, but
not great. Have you ever been to a restaurant and eaten a
dish which you know was made with phenomenal ingredients,
but the overall flavors didn't blow you away? You've
captured Chuao's chocolate in a nutshell -- or chocopod
in this case.
Had there been a milk chocolate bar to sample, I can already guess I would have rated it somewhere in the 6 range, particularly given its premium price. Chocolatiers with extremely
high chocolate quality tend to establish their reputations
with basic bars of differing cacao concentrations. Witness Madecasse with their
63%, 70%, 75%, and 80% offerings. The vegan marshmallow and almond additions were what elevated this bar into a satisfying chocolate-eating
candy experience. Lord only knows it would have been a rockier road if the fillings were omitted.