Scharffen Berger Papua New Guinea Single Origin Bar Review
I should be responsible here and say 3 things: 1) I am not a fan of PNG chocolate as it tends to have flavour notes I don’t particularly like 2) I don’t trust their tasting notes after the Ferry Building incident 3) I didn’t like the last Scharffen Berger single origin Ben Tre and I don’t have high hopes here so I did avoid trying this bar for about 2 months. Why buy it, you wonder? I am the eternal optimist.
Now, I have nothing against PNG chocolate per se – I just find that the kinds I have had have all had a smoky edge. Not sure if that is an issue with how they are fermenting, dying or roasting but I have trouble believing in a bean that comes off the tree with an edge of smoke. So there you have it – why I don’t like Jura whisky and why I don’t like PNG chocolate – smoke.
So I had trouble believing it when the paper wrapper didn’t mention the smoky edge to the chocolate. I’ve included the tasting notes for just this reason – that and the fact that I don’t agree with them at all so you should have the opportunity to know both sides of the story.
What did I think? Was it lightly fruity with notes of cherry and raisin? Not for me it didn’t, no. I think this is one of those occasions where either they accidentally put the wrong tasting notes on the bar or have never bothered to check what this bar ages like. It might be nice to include a note something along the lines of “but after 2 or 3 months, the fruit disappears, leaving behind nutty notes with an edge of smoke which starts at the beginning and builds throughout” or something similar.
I got nothing from the wrapper but for the vanilla – and I think we know why we all get vanilla from *some* single origin bars. Perhaps I am infair – I did like this bar miles better than their Ben Tre and I think if you wanted to choose a single origin bar from CScharffen Berger I would recommend this of the two. Would I buy it again? I’m not a fan of the smoke so no but if I was and I didn’t have anyone else’s Papua New Guinea bar to buy then I’d go for it because it is a decent single origin. At this size though I would expect them to be closer to doing more great things like Hotel Chocolat.
Perhaps American palettes simple are not as refined and perhaps American chocolate buyers are not as demanding as British ones…?
I do recall trying this bar with you, Judith, and liking it more than you did. As we both know, tasting chocolate is such a personal experience — just as tasting wines and other culinary delights.
To answer your Q, yes, I do believe that British palates are more refined than Americans when it comes to chocolate as the Brits have such an abundance of top-notch chocolatiers who are leading the Chocolate Revolution. I can’t believe how British chocolate has changed in the past few years! It was always known for being far too sweet, but wow! Has it changed!
Too many Americans are hooked on chocolate candy vs seeking out chocolate excellence. So it is harder for chocolatiers in NA to change the palate preferences of their customers. I’ve heard the same thing from chocolatiers in South America.
PNG cocoa and chocolate comes with many different flavours, buts it’s interesting that a few years ago when a research/extension program was geared to getting producers/processors of beans to remove the smokey flavour of some cocoa there was a sharp rebuke from some buyers in Europe that they are particularly going for and expecting that characteristic, at least from some cocoa from PNG, and that it shouldn’t be removed, at least not from all cocoa…
Thanks for sharing that Paul. I was just slightly confused about where it was coming from (smoke) but also why it wasn’t listed as a flavour note on the wrapper when I was tasting it. Kind of makes you doubt your sanity at times 😉 but I’m no smoke lover so not, possibly a fair judge but it all comes to personal taste so someone who likes peaty whisky and smoke flavours is going to enjoy this bar 🙂
Valrhona, the French chocolate powerhouse, was the first to translate the concept to the larger market, pioneering what it called Grand Cru chocolate and precipitating a movement that has grown into today’s chocolate connoisseurship. Valrhona launched the first single origin chocolate bar in 1986. Now there are many, and devotees study fine chocolate bars as wine lovers analyze fine wine, with an understanding of the terroir and microclimate of the bean and their impact on the flavors and aromas in the chocolate produced in those regions—even on specific plantations! As the best beans are reserved for the best bars, these singe origin chocolate bars represent the best chocolate in the world. In terms of unique characteristics and layers of complex flavors, they are analogous to the finest wines.
And it’s not just “name” companies whose bars you’ll buy at the store. Companies like Callebaut, a leading producer of high-quality couverture from Belgium, produce a selection of origin couvertures that chocolatiers remold into their own bars.* Callebaut and other business-to-business producers don’t sell to consumers under their own name, but make the chocolate that you may enjoy under many other brand names.