This elegantly packaged bar was purchased for me by my cousin, whose picks in the past have been both wonderfully high and unspeakably low. Sambirano is made by a self-proclaimed "true bean to bar" company -- they're based in Minneapolis, and according to their website they were the first artisanal chocolate makers in the Upper Midwest. Everything about their bars is carefully crafted, down to the type of sugar used and the listing of recognizable notes in the flavor profiles. Do you guys like it when I talk like Padma Lakshmi? Read on.
Rogue Chocolatier: Sambirano
Cocoa content: 70%
Notable ingredients: n/a*
* Unless you count Tahitian vanilla.
This is the second single origin bar from Madagascar that I've had -- the first being a milk chocolate Valrhona bar I enjoyed just a few weeks ago. Being that said bar had a great deal of cocoa butter and sugar in the mix, it was hard to locate the flavors unique to Madagascaran beans. So, with Sambirano, I'm pretty much tasting this origin for the first time. It's certainly more similar to other African beans -- like those from Ghana -- and has little in common with other single origins from South America and elsewhere. Rogue actually attempts to isolate the specific flavors, which they've listed on the back: "citrus, rum raisin, toast."
This shtick might be a little snobby, but I think they're actually right -- certainly about the rum raisin part, at least. African single origin bars are always a little too acidic, and this was no exception. But does the inclusion of a "citrus" note on the back absolve Rogue of its failure to check the acidity? I don't know -- in any event, the appearance of the bar and its packaging legitimizes any artisanal, single-origin pretension: the bar was simply one long, thin, uninterrupted strip of chocolate; the lack of segmenting showcased the bar's consistency and expert use of conching, as it broke along clean, snappy lines.
I was indeed glad to have known it, and gladder still to have gotten acquainted with Madagascar via the Upper Midwest -- who would have guessed? B+.