Week 5. Chocolate Conspiracy Wild Spice

Cacao: 72%        Type: Dark chocolate with inclusions        Origin: Peru

Ingredients: raw organic cocoa beans, raw wildflower honey, raw organic cocoa butter, organic cayenne pepper, organic cinnamon, organic nutmeg, raw organic maca root, raw organic vanilla bean, black lava salt

Where to Buy: online or at these retailers all over the U.S., as well as Canada, the U.K., and several online vendors

Average Price: $9.50         Bar Size: 2 oz

Cacao Origin Map

Personal Tasting Notes

This was another blind taste test, so this bar was a lot of fun to taste--like a kaleidoscope puzzle, with unexpected flavors and textures flying at me from all directions. From the moment my teeth met the bar, a peculiar texture was apparent--but I didn't realize until a little later that it was black lava salt crisping around on the edges of this very unique chocolate. The texture of the chocolate itself immediately felt a little grainy, which I would find out with the package reveal was owing to the raw nature of the cacao, so not considered a negative trait of the bar. For a couple of seconds, the opening flavors teased my nose and I could sense that there was a complexity coming that I probably wouldn't have adequate descriptors for.

I was right, but before that thought even finished itself, the pepper crept in and then grew. AND GREW. This is one spicy bar! I've had a lot of pepper inclusion bars, most of whom gave just a smile and a nod toward the great power of the Scoville unit, and one notable bar from Oregon whose melting skull image on the package warned of certain death (or the wish for it), but the Wild Spice bar falls somewhere in between. It's a grown-up bar that packs enough heat to be taken seriously, but without overwhelming at least this pepper panty-weight.

But the heat is is just one personality trait of this sassy bar. It roams all over the spice spectrum, from cherry and salt at the beginning, to tobacco, vanilla and black pepper, to finishing off with cardamom, nutmeg and saffron notes. And all of this in a raw or near-raw chocolate--it's quite a wild ride, which disguises the fact that this is one heck of a nutritious bar and could be eaten for no other reason than its health benefits. 

One final note: while this isn't my very favorite bar ever (I find I value buttery mouthfeel very highly, generally), it is nevertheless complex, tasty, and spicy, and I think it would make an outstanding drinking chocolate, aside from the fun of eating it straight. The Chocolate Conspiracy endeared themselves to me years ago when I first met their awesome team at the Northwest Chocolate Festival. I was a complete chocolate noob in those days, but happily shelled over $17 for a tiny raw chocolate bar that had a hand-written label and a hand-stamped wax seal. That little bar sits in my collection now, a museum piece most likely never to be opened, but it really embodies the spirit of The Chocolate Conspiracy: everything about them is just imbued with a sense of gravitas, of hand-craftedness, of taking the time to make something meaningful and beautiful. It's just what they do and who they are.

Maker Profile

There's a conspiracy in Utah these days, and it's alive and well. The Chocolate Conspiracy, headed up by A.J. Wentworth, exists, in the words of their website, "... to produce a fine chocolate with amazing flavor while retaining and exemplifying the nutritional content. We want to bring about joy and love through chocolate." And they do. Maybe the conspiracy is that their chocolate is sweetened by honey, or maybe it's that they use raw, unfermented (or minimally fermented), unroasted cacao beans in their chocolate. Maybe the conspiracy is that chocolate can be so dang healthy and so tasty at the same time. In any case, this is a chocolate company set apart. They are deeply committed to preserving and highlighting the health benefits of chocolate, and as a result, every handcrafted bar they make has some amazing properties to it.

The passion and creativity that head chocolate maker A.J. Wentworth pours into his craft has made him a highly-respected and really well-liked personality in the craft chocolate world; I had the privilege of meeting him and his crew a few years back when my craft chocolate romance was just beginning to bloom, and he was one of those guys who's just immensely likable and relatable, while at the same time having the aura about him of a complete wizard. Those qualities really come out in his chocolate.

Grading Rubric

Criteria
Good Characteristics
5
4
3
2
1
0
Bad Characteristics
Appearance
clean, shiny, snappy
  
  
  
  
  
  
bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
complex, distinctive
  
  
  
  
  
  
neutral, boring, flat
Start
flavors develop quickly
  
  
  
  
  
 
flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
flavors develop and change
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
  
  
  
  
  
  
flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
smooth, velvety
  
  
  
  
  
  
grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
love, love, LOVE it!
  
  
  
  
  
  
meh.
Criteria
5
4
3
2
1
0
Characteristics
Appearance
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: clean, shiny, snappy
0: bloomed, dull finish, no snap
Aroma
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: complex, distinctive
0: neutral, boring, flat
Start
  
  
  
  
  
 
5: flavors develop quickly
0: flavors slow in coming, uninteresting
Middle
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors develop and change
0: flavors remain the same as the start
Finish
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: flavors change again and linger well beyond the chocolate
0: flavor ends abruptly, uninterestingly
Mouth Feel
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: smooth, velvety
0: grainy, inconsistent
Personal Preference
  
  
  
  
  
  
5: love, love, LOVE it!
0: meh.

Flavor Profile

Chocolate Conspiracy Wild Spice Bar Flavor Wheel.jpg