Mother’s Day “week”, the last few days before mommy’s most hallowed day, are typically a time of fret and worry for me.
I have always yearned to have children, but as life unfolded they didn’t arrive until my mid-thirties. (At just the right time, with the perfect partner for me, as it turns out.) And so their mere existence should be gift enough, right? But like the little girl who always dreamed of a Barbie-esque white fluffy wedding only to grow up to become Bridezilla, Mother’s Day brings out some emotionally-charged, well, expectations, that I try ever so hard to quash. My husband is a giver by nature, my kids are beyond fantastic, requisite brunch reservations are arranged, so I should need nothing more than a handmade card. Which, by the way, I know I’m getting because I already saw what little Joseph made in nursery school and it’s nothing short of perfection!
Nonetheless, my husband Joseph has made a kind offering to soothe and appease, in the form of two single-origin dark chocolate bars. One is Santander’s 70% cacao Colombian, and the other is Chuao’s 74%, made in Todasana, Venezuela. Interestingly, they both have natural vanilla added; I wonder if that has anything to do with being single-origin. Perhaps, without a blend of crops, a flavor boost was needed.
The Santander 70% Colombian smells mellow and rich, and has nice snap. It was fresh-looking in the package, without bloom. The company promises a “robust” flavor, even suggesting it will be “bitter” at first, and it’s true, my first impression was that it seemed nutty and even masculine, like tobacco or strong coffee, but without being overly bold. Overall, this is an energetic bar, and remains rich at the finish. The Santander company proudly states on its website that they pay fair prices and cash payments to growers, maintain good working conditions for personnel, promote sustainable and friendly agricultural practices, and sponsor Colombian educational programs.
The Chuao 74% smells sweet and fruity, and is configured in smaller squares, which I prefer. It has a good snap. My bar had only the slightest bloom, which of course does not affect flavor. If I am allowed to consider the Santander masculine, this most certainly is it’s female counterpart, evoking a lazy, breezy, tropical afternoon. Although this dark chocolate has 4% more cacao than the Santander and only 1% more sugar, the finish seemed much sweeter.
In many ways, the Chuao is “local” to me. The company was founded by two Venezuelan brothers who opened their first chocolate boutique in San Diego (where I lived for 8 years), naming it Chuao Chocolatier after the well-known cacao-producing region of Chuao located in central Venezuela.