As much as I go ga-ga for the latest limited edition bag of chips or Kwanzaa-themed taco from Taco Bell, it is an absolute treat to receive wintry desserts and chocolates in the mail. No doubt. When I got this bar from Askinosie, it sat on my reviewing desk for a while, and then moved to the kitchen. While I knew it would be amazing, I was a little afraid to review it.
Black licorice and chocolate? And anise seeds to boot? I feared my intrepid nature had gone too far. But winter is slowly encroaching upon us like an aged ogling spectator at the gym, and there's nothing we can do to stop it but sit inside and eat. Pity, really. In the spirit of all things chilly, because really, Western Mass, it's the first day I haven't been able to go outside with a t-shirt on, so I poured myself a finger (okay, two) of 10 year Laphroaig and got my virtual fireplace on, preparing to try this bar. #boss
Askinosie's dark chocolate is superb and despite the $10 price tag and limited release on this bar, I encourage you to check this out as a gift or a treat. The packaging is especially clever, with the label and bar inside a glassine sleeve, whose opaque tint blurs some words and emphasizes others. It's bold, yet minimal. I've mentioned my love for their Socunusco here, and while their Davao is 62% as opposed to the robust 75% of the Socunusco, it's no less potent and sweet. On its own, the chocolate is glossy and thick, with a firm, shiny exterior and snap. The Davao has grassy, olive-like notes with a tangy, coffee finish. This particular bar studs the Davao with pieces of salted black licorice from renowned Scandinavian factory Lakritsfabriken, anise seeds, and fleur de sel.
Texture-wise, this offers a melange of thoughtful bites to maneuver on the tongue, starting a curiously sensual process before taste even enters the picture. The pieces of licorice are soft and chewy and the anise seeds and salt start to dissolve and soften in your mouth before the chocolate. Tempting as it was to wolf down each piece, I found that letting it melt and linger on the tongue released far more earthy, savory notes than chewing it did- though it was an extremely difficult effort to not mindlessly eat the entire bar. The salted elements infuse the bar in a few different ways. While there is a persistent mild salinity from the fleur de sel, a pleasant contrast to the briny flavors in the chocolate, every so often the licorice yields small pockets of salt that shock the tongue delicately and open up those sweetly subtle anise flavors and brown sugar/molasses notes.
This is an absolutely crafted bar, no doubt about that. It is not something to casually eat on the way to work or after a big meal with ice cream. It is too nuanced and delicate to eat alongside other sweet foods. With a small glass of scotch on the rocks, it quelled all cravings for any other foods. It's compelling enough to enjoy in small pieces but not so intense that it overwhelms the palate. It is easily one of the tastiest bars I have eaten this year and carries the same level of precision as any Vosges or Amano with attention to balance in its flavors and the showcasing of its amazing chocolate. Saving the remaining squares for Miss Love will be an arduous task indeed.
Labels: 10, chocolate, dessert, snack