As discussed in our previous blog piece, many chocolate makers choose to age their chocolate before moulding it into bars, as the flavours continue to change and develop over time. Many believe that it’s essential to let chocolate age for at least one month, whereas others consider this process a waste of time. Whatever the truth, it is undeniable that aging chocolate in certain containers or amongst special ingredients can add unique and delightfully nuanced flavours.
We stock several aged chocolate bars from makers such as To’ak, Raaka, Dick Taylor and Fruition. The most common style in our collection is whisky or bourbon-aged, and the chocolate makers achieve this infusion by either soaking the cacao nibs in whiskey or storing the nibs in a whiskey barrel for any number of months (or years!). The concept of barrel-aging is very common in the world of wine, beer and spirits, but for chocolate it’s a relatively new technique that’s in the early stages of experimentation. Just like with alcohol production, the aromas of the barrel will seep into its contents over time, though the infusion is usually a little more subtle with solids (cacao nibs) than liquids. Of all the whiskey-aged chocolate we’ve tasted, the bars made with cacao nibs soaked in whiskey had a much stronger infusion than the barrel-aged bars, though both are very pleasant in their own way.
Of course, whiskey-infusion is just one of hundreds of options for aging chocolate or cacao. The good people at To’ak are leading the way with innovation in this field, having developed a series of exceptional aged bars that include everything from tequila to pepper. Some of these bars are made with liquid-infused nibs; some are barrel-aged, and some are made with untempered chocolate that is stored in a glass jar, together with the flavour enhancer. To’ak are possibly the only company to age untempered chocolate in barrels (rather than cacao nibs), and they believe this creates a different infusion as the fat has become ‘loose’ from being incapsulated into the solids. The To’ak aging process can take anywhere up to five years!
It’s amazing to see these techniques emerge in the chocolate industry and we look forward to seeing how it develops over time. It’s exciting to think about all of the untapped flavour-potential in this field – imagine chocolate aged in port or stout barrels, or cacao nibs stored with different herbs, spices or flowers. The possibilities are endless!
If you’ve never tasted chocolate aged in this way, be sure to check out our collection and treat yourself today.