He had me at “Dear chocolate lover,”.
But it is the rest of this story that finally did me in.
I first heard about Claudio Corallo from Kriss Harvey, a pastry wizard who now spends his time consulting with restaurants (like Phoenix’s Restaurant noca) and jetting all over the world to demonstrate the pacojet (a commercial frozen foods machine).
Kriss knows chocolate and he told me that Claudio Corallo chocolate was like no other he had ever tasted.
Really? A special chocolate that I’d never tasted — or even heard of before? Naturally, I had to have some.
I wanted to sample everything, so I ordered “the complete collection,” a $50 package with a sample of every Corallo bar. Single bars of Claudio Corallo sell for $7.50. This isn’t cheap chocolate.
Kriss was right. Claudio Corallo chocolate doesn’t taste like any other chocolate, and I’ve tried many, many high-end chocolates. Valhrona. Callebaut. Vosges. Peter’s. Theo’s. etc.
There is a reason why this chocolate is different — actually many reasons — and as I write this, I’m wondering if those differences might be too much for the average chocolate lover to accept.
The differences between this and other gourmet chocolates start in the field. That’s right, chocolate comes from a tree. Well, cacao beans come from a tree, and cacao beans are processed into chocolate.
Claudio Corallo is one of those rare chocolate producers who manages the process from field to finished chocolate.
His plantation is located on the tiny island off the coast of West Africa called Príncipe, and his chocolate production is performed on the neighboring island of São Tomé.
The Italian-born Corallo holds a degree in tropical agronomy, and owned coffee plantations in Zaire before civil strife in that country forced him to flee to the Democratic Republic of São Tomé.
Once there, Corallo began the process of restoring a dilapidated cacao plantation. He discovered the plantation was home to heirloom cacao trees brought to the island from South America by the Portuguese in the 1800′s.
But caring for the trees is only part of the story. How Corallo processes the cacao from bean to finished chocolate also makes his chocolate unique.
He doesn’t follow the same steps and procedures that most high end chocolate producers do. For example, conching is a grinding step in chocolate production that produces the smooth texture, yet Corallo’s chocolates are not really smooth.
The slight granular texture of his chocolate is by design. He doesn’t grind his beans into a fine dust like most producers.
In fact, the 80% cacao bar is labeled “Sandy,” infused with crystallized sugar that really feels like fine sand on the tongue.
What’s NOT in his finished chocolate is also a distinguishing factor.
Claudio Corallo chocolates have neither vanilla nor soy lecithin (a natural stabilizer), so when you taste the chocolate, you are tasting the very essence of his heirloom cacao beans.
The taste is earthy — intensifying as the percentage of cacao rises (the bars come in 73.5% through 100%, the difference being the amount of sugar added to the pure chocolate.)
The 100% pure chocolate bar contains no sugar. Nothing but 100% cacao. It’s quite shocking to taste.
Most of us, even certifiable dark chocolate lovers, are used to at least some sugar to offset the bitter, pure chocolate. And most of us are also used to eating chocolate that’s been softened with vanilla, even if we can’t actually taste the vanilla.
Claudio Corallo chocolates might be an acquired taste for some. If your idea of the perfect chocolate is silky smooth and creamy, this chocolate might not be for you.
But if you’re the adventurous or curious type and are willing to shell out almost $8 for new kind of chocolate experience, then you should try Claudio Corallo’s unique chocolate.
Order online or check the website to see if there is a retail location near you.
Chocolate from the Source
2122 Westlake Avenue, Seattle WA