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Criollo Chocolate

Criollo chocolate discovery

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I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate. Even as a child I was not too keen on sweets and ice cream (although loved a Crème brûlée flavoured). But after discovering sake I kept my options open and became much more forthcoming towards various foods and drinks.

When I heard about different types of cocoa beans (see my previous post) I was really surprised. What? Not all cocoa is the same? I became so curious about all these different varieties, especially Criollo, which is arguably the most delicious but quite rare sort of chocolate, that I resolved to find and try chocolate made of Criollo.

A quick Google search showed that there is an artisan chocolaterie, Paul A. Young, just around the corner. Without leaving it for later and burning with curiosity I walked over there and was greeted by a nice chap behind the counter, who turned out to be very knowledgeable in chocolate.

Amongst all the varieties of chocolate and truffles the shop stocks a wide range of Criollo chocolate from 43% up to 72% of various origins. I settled on a bar of 72% Criollo chocolate from Nicaragua. I prefer dark chocolate, I think it suits my dry personality better: it’s serious, not too soft and moderately sweet offset by nice bitterness. And Criollo chocolate didn’t disappoint me.

It’s indeed different from the chocolate we are all used to. The taste is much more complex and delicate. You can feel a bit of raisins, cocoa butter, some nutty motifs all coming together into a joyful symphony of chocolate. Criollo feels a little drier that ordinary chocolate but softer at the same time.

I really enjoyed the Criollo chocolate and I’m planning to try other variations. Probably even Criollo milk chocolate might agree with my palate more than the more common Forastero. There is also Trinitario, a hybrid between these two. Criollo is not cheap, so bear with me until I buy a next bar. I will also do a quick review of the Paul A. Young chocolaterie. When I was buying the Criollo bar, I noticed saw that they also serve hot chocolate, which looked delicious! So stay tuned!


Alex is a London-based sake blogger, podcaster, IWC Sake judge and sake advocate. He is a publisher of the Sugidama Blog website and a host of the Sugidama Podcast. Alex has an International Kikisake-shi (Sake Specialist) qualification from SSI (Sake Service Institute). He sees his mission as expanding the awareness of Japanese sake among as many people as possible and helping the growing community of sake lovers to bring together beautiful Japanese sake and non-Japanese food as a way to build a better understanding between our cultures.