This is now the fourth year we have had this pretty special bean.
Have you heard about the semi-newly discovered "rarest bean in the world"? Pure white National from Peru? "Rare Cacao discovered in Peru" Well this is it. Right from Maranon Chocolate. Actually, just like much of the mystique around Criollo, this bean too has tons of mystique around it. Some people say it’s the best thing ever. Others are totally underwhelmed. Some talk about whether or how it is ‘Pure Nacional’ or whether it matters. Others call it the Peruvian Porcelano. It’s said to contain 40-60% white cacao. And I won’t even try to delve into.
If you want to read up, please do. The C-spot has a good article.
At the end of the day, I care about what it tastes like. And I really like it.
It has an incredible floral note of dried tropical fruits. It has moderate chocolate and just the right amount of minerally bittersweet edge. Taken into a full roast the natural sweetness turns deep and rich with a lovely earth and leather back note.
First and foremost I was struck by the color of both the beans and nibs. Clearly (to my eye) the 40-60% white beans is true. Many of the beans (say 40%) are very pale. Check out the photos to the left.
And the nibs as a whole show a marked lightness from even my other Peru Criollo.
After that, you need to set your mind and taste filters to ‘mild’. I’ve read some reviews from people, who once again equated rare and special and pure with over poweringly amazing came away underwhelmed if not actively disappointed. The roasted bean aroma is nutty and biscuit like. The chocolate presents high, bright snappy fruit aromas of bing cherries. The chocolate is basically without bitterness and very silky. The cherry flavor comes through as does small hints of walnut skin astringency. I love the mouth feel. Very buttery and mellow. I get soft persimmon and delicate raspberry. Although many Nacional are floral, I can’t say I note any in this chocolate. The lasting impression I am left with is milk chocolate covered cherries.
The chocolate level is structured and medium level with just enough balancing acidity to make it truly enjoyable.
Roasting…..Well, that’s really what you want to know isn’t it. Well, I’ve tried this two different ways so far. Once was to 265 F (bean temperature) and the last time up to 280 F. In both cases it made great chocolate. The lower temperature yielded a fruitier more acidic (but not too acidic) chocolate. The higher temperature brought out chocolate a bit more I feel. Please don't be tempted to roast this too light. It needs the heat to develop full flavors. I find lighter roasts on the more bitter and astringent side due to lack of balancing flavors.