Ecuador is famous for chocolate. In this post, we'll cover some of the premium chocolate brands in Ecuador (República del Cacao, Pacari), a unique chocolate drink with cheese, and how to correctly taste chocolate.
Let's begin with our full taste review of República del Cacao.
República del Cacao: Premium Ecuador Chocolate
Imagine our excitement when República del Cacao invited us to taste test their premium chocolate! All of their product is 100% harvested and produced in Ecuador.
In this post, we'll also share the specifics about how to taste chocolate. Needless to say, it wasn't a hard job. Here's our video taste test of República del Cacao's flavored chocolates.
República del Cacao Taste Test (Video)
For more about República del Cacao, please visit their site.
Note: We were given a gift pack at no charge. We were not paid, or even asked, to give a positive review. We genuinely loved the product and recommend that visitors try this at least once while in the country.
República del Cacao Taste Test: Varieties
For this taste test, we tried 6 types of chocolate bars and two tins of chocolate-coated goodies.
The varieties we tasted were:
- Rose Petals & Dark Milk Chocolate: 51% Cacao Solids
- Dark Milk Chocolate: 52% Cacao Solids
- Dark Galapagos Chocolate with Coffee Nibs: 75% Cacao Solids
- Banana Chips & Dark Milk Chocolate: 47% Cacao Solids
- Hot Peppers & Dark Milk Chocolate: 51% Cacao Solids
- Golden Berry (Uvilla) & Dark Milk Chocolate: 48% Cacao Solids
In the two tins, we have some chocolate covered treats:
- Coffee Nibs covered in Dark Milk Chocolate
- Wild Pineapples covered in Dark Milk Chocolate
Our Favorite Chocolates
Needless to say, we liked them all. They are, after all, premium Ecuadorian chocolate. 🙂 Here are our favorites from our taste test:
- Dena's favorite: Rose Petals & Dark Milk Chocolate
- My favorite: Dark Galapagos Chocolate with Coffee Nibs
- My Biggest Surprise: Banana Chips & Dark Milk Chocolate. I honestly didn't think I would like this one. But the contrast of the banana chips (crunchy and crispy) with the smooth, rich chocolate made this a real surprise. Now please excuse me while I get some more…
How to Taste Dark Chocolate
How do you eat dark chocolate? Do you eat it slow, savoring each bite? Or maybe you like to gobble it down in a few bites (like me)?
Learning to Savor Dark Chocolate
In this post, we learn how to actually taste chocolate. This is a new experience for me. (It's so hard not to chew it!)
For this test we have some of the best chocolate from Ecuador: República del Cacao and we taste-test six of their premium dark chocolates.
Tasting Dark Chocolate in 11 Steps (Video)
Now for all the details.
Learn How to Taste Dark Chocolate: 11 Steps
As recommended, we started with the lighter chocolate and then moved to the darker (higher cacao solids) bar. This way, the darker chocolate flavors won't overpower the lighter flavors.
Here are the steps to get the full dark chocolate experience:
- Be free of distractions: This allows you to focus on the flavors. Avoid things like music, television or other distracting elements.
- Start with a clean palate: Your mouth should be free of residue from a previous meal. You might use bread, an apple, or even a glass of water to clean your palate. You should also do this between tasting different chocolate.
- Take a large enough piece: You must taste a large enough piece of chocolate to detect the nuances. Approximately 10 grams is a good starting point.
- Taste at room temperature. Never taste cold chocolate. It won't melt as quickly and the flavors aren't released the same.
- Look at the chocolate: Look for blemishes and white marks (called bloom). You are looking for problems with air bubbles, swirling and uneven surfaces. While the defects won't likely affect the flavor it does show the quality of production. Watch for a radiant sheen. Chocolate comes in a brown rainbow. The tints range from pinks, purples, reds, and oranges.
- Smell it: Smell plays an important part in the flavor. By inhaling the fragrance, you prime the tongue for the chocolate. And it just smells amazing.
- Break it: Listen for a “snap” sound. The snap will vary, depending on the temperature of the chocolate.
- Put the chocolate in your mouth. Place the piece on your tongue and allow it to arrive at body temperature. (Don't chew it yet!) The cocoa butter needs to melt and distribute through your mouth gradually and naturally.
- Study the taste and texture. Concentrate on the flavors that unfold on the tongue. Notice how the flavor evolves during the melting process.
- Chewing is optional. If you must chew a maximum of three times. Chewing may release too many flavors all at once.
- Understand chocolate basics: Just what is chocolate liquor? And what about cocoa butter? Understanding the basics about chocolate will help you be a more discerning chocolate taster.
Dark Chocolate Tasting Results
So how did it go?
For me, it was a great experience. I noticed subtle differences in texture and flavors – something I never took the time to do before.
Here are our favorites:
- Dena's Favorite: El Oro Province Bar Dena noticed delicate, sweet and smooth flavor.
- Bryan's Favorite: Manabi Province Bar Bryan noticed a fruitiness to this dark chocolate.
These are the different chocolates we tasted:
- El Oro Province (67% Cacao Solids): natural sweetness with a hint of flowers and fruit
- Los Rios Province (75% Cacao Solids): from Ecuador's inland coastal region, has a slight blossom fragrance
- Galapagos Islands with Coffee Nibs (75% Cacao Solids): Enough said 🙂
- Manabi Province (75%): a subtle fruitiness and a hint of spice
- Vinces Community Bar (75% Cacao Solids): This bar from La Comunidad Vinces is certified USDA organic and is produced with a focus on sustainability, traceability and tradition.
- Antigua Hacienda La Concepcion (85% Cacao Solids): At 85%, this is their highest cacao solids bar – meaning it is the darkest chocolate that they produce. Like Vinces Community Bar, this is also certified USDA organic.
What is “Single-Origin” Chocolate?
All of these bars by República del Cacao are 100% produced here in Ecuador. Single-origin chocolate is chocolate produced within a single geographical origin. This can refer to a single farm or a single region within the country or province.
The bars we tasted are named based on the provinces of Ecuador where the cacao beans were grown.
Why “Arriba” Chocolate?
The origin of the word “arriba” has been traced back to the XIX century. While traveling on the Guayas River, a Swiss Chocolatier asked “where does the aroma come from?” The workman unloading the sacks of cacao answered “del rio arriba” or “from up the river.”
These are some of the most popular Ecuador souvenirs for visitors.
Pacari Chocolate: Makers of Ecuador's Fig/Chocolate Bars
Ecuador is famous for its chocolate. One of the best we've tasted is Pacari. They make this amazing chocolate bar with dried figs. In case you didn't know – I love figs. When we moved to Ecuador I didn't know this about myself.
But with a combination of higos con queso, empanadas with figs, and now chocolate bars with figs I can't get enough.
Pacari: Ecuador's Premium Organic Chocolate
Pacari is based in Quito and they export to the United States.
Pacari Chocolate is family-owned and produces certified organic “from tree to bar” chocolate products. (I would have included a photo of the actual chocolate bars … but I accidentally ate them.)
Ingredient List for Fig Chocolate Bar
Varieties of Pacari Chocolate Bars
Fruit and Raw Chocolate Flavors
- Uvilla (Goldenberry): sweet-tart berries with dark chocolate
- Mortiño (Andean Blueberry)
- Merken Chili Chocolate
- Raw 70% Cacao Chocolate
- Raw 85% Cacao Chocolate
- Raw 70% Cacao with Spirulina Chocolate
- Raw 70% Cacao with Salt and Nibs Chocolate (ground cacao nibs)
- Raw 100% Cacao Chocolate
- Raw 70% Cacao with Maca Chocolate
- Salt and Nibs Chocolate
Regional Chocolate Flavors from Around Ecuador
Two of these provinces are on Ecuador's coast. Los Rios is at the foot of the Andes – located inland from the coastline.
- Esmeraldas: banana, floral, and honey
- Los Rios: fruit blossom, guanábana, and roasted coffee
- Manabi: nut and citrus flower flavors
They have two limited-edition flavors that won gold and silver at the International Chocolate Awards: Limited Edition Piura Chocolate and Limited Edition Nube.
In addition to chocolate bars, they also make chocolate-covered cacao beans, chocolate-covered dried bananas (and uvillas, espresso beans, and cacao nibs), drinking cacao (ginger, cinnamon, and natural), and a variety of superfood products.
Learn more about sweets in Ecuador in our post about 16 Ecuador desserts.
We've tried the three flavors above, along with some of the basic raw chocolate bars. But with 19 different flavors, we have some work to do.
Try Pacari Chocolate While in Ecuador
While they are worth every penny, ordering these online will cost more than here in Ecuador. These chocolate bars are listed at $2.25 ea – although they cost just $2.01 at SuperMaxi. Online (from the US) they will cost more – from $5 to $8 each.
Which flavor do you want to try first? Have you found another great brand? Please share it in the comments below.
This next section was written by our daughter, Drew in February 2013.
Ecuadorian Hot Chocolate… with Mozzarella Cheese?!
We were at the Mall del Rio in Cuenca and we decided to go for hot chocolate at La Español Cafe.
I saw on the menu: Hot Chocolate With Mozzarella Cheese.
“That's weird…” I thought. “Why would hot chocolate come with mozzarella cheese on the side ?”
I thought it sounded interesting so I bought it. You can't imagine the surprise I got!
When it came, I didn't see any mozzarella cheese. I was starting to wonder where it was. I always eat my hot chocolate with a spoon because its so hot. Well, guess what came up with the spoon…
Hot Chocolate With Mozzarella Cheese
“Oh” I said, “there's the mozzarella cheese!”
That's right! It was in the hot chocolate. I was sooo surprised! I never knew that existed. But it was really good. Very gooey and stretchy. And being a lover of cheese, I loved it!
I always like trying new things, but I never thought that this would be something I would try!
If you want to make your hot chocolate at home, here are some of the best hot chocolate mixes.
What is your favorite chocolate? How do you eat / taste chocolate? Did we miss a chocolate-tasting step?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Have you tried República del Cacao or Pacari chocolate? What's your favorite?