Please read my updated review here.
You guys might remember my friend Chef Keem. He is one in a million, and also makes a Darn Fine Candy. So, when he contacted me a couple of weeks ago, wanting me to try some chocolate covered cocoa beans that a friend of his makes, well, who am I to say No? Friends, I am not one to say No when it comes to candies, and especially not chocolate candies. So, after a few emails back and forth to Tom Pedersen, father of Cocoa Puro, my little gems came to me in the mail.
First, let me describe said gems. They are whole roasted cocoa beans of the rare and delightful Criollo and Trinitario varieties (as opposed to the widely available and somewhat feral-tasting Forestoro variety) that have been Triple Dunked. Once in white chocolate. Once in milk chocolate. Once in dark chocolate. Oh, and then they're dusted with cocoa powder. Just for good measure. This gives you Five Levels of pure chocolate flavor. Each dunk is maybe 1-2 mm thick, with the white chocolate closest to the bean, followed by milk, dark and cocoa powder. Here's what your tongue gets to taste, in order of appearance: bitter; bittersweet smooth, sweeter creamy, sweetest creamy and back to bitter crunchy. All the flavors and textures combine to make a wee candy of incredible chocolate depth and well rounded flavor. Happy, happy tongue.
Now, I must say that Mother Nature was not kind. She had the nerve to make it Be a Billion degrees over the last couple of days, especially on the route between Austin, TX y mi casa. Although the beans came wrapped Extremely well, with wee ice packs and insulated bubble wrap (!), they were a bit on the melty side.
That meant that a)I had to throw them in the fridge to firm them up, b)the chocolate fell out of temper. When The Beloved and I tried them cold, the crunchy in the middle seemed to overwhelm all the Sweet Creamy on the outside. I emailed Tom and told him What Had Happened, and he wrote back saying that they don't generally ship wee packs, so it was difficult to figure out how much wrapping they would need.* Also, he recommended that they be eaten at room temperature. So, I set them Out this morning to come to temp. Since the chocolate was out of temper, it was much softer than it would normally be. It got all over my fingers and was generally Melty. Again, I blame Mother Nature. Even with MN's meddling, these guys are Really, Really Good. At room temp, the crunch in the middle is a little less crunchy while the sweet creamy is more so. The end result is a perfectly balanced confection that is nothing but pure unadulterated chocolate. Since all the flavors are similar, the magic is in the different textures and the nuances of flavor among the layers.
They, whoever they are, say "Do only one thing, but do it better than anyone else," and the folks at Cocoa Puro have really taken it to heart. This might be the only thing they do, but they do it right. They've found a way to make "chocolate," which can sometimes be a little one-note, into a bite-sized symphony.
You can find Kaka'Wa (and no, I don't know what it means) Cocoa Beans at the Cocoa Pura website. They come in 12 oz. bags for $28/bag, not including shipping. It is a pretty Steep Price, especially in this economy. But remember what you're getting, if you need to Justify the Expense: five chocolate flavors in one bite, the middle bite being pure, unadulterated, unsweetened-and-yet-not-the-least-bit-bitter cocoa bean. These guys really are a rare treat. So, thank you Tom for sending some my way, and thanks again to Chef Keem for making the connection initially.
Full disclosure: I got my wee bag gratis, but since I am not Swayed by Free Treats, my review is as unbiased as I can make it. Also, the link to the Cocoa Pura website is not an affiliate link--it's just there because I care about you. I will say that, since I think these little guys are so great, I am putting a link over there in the Prepared Food Treats section of my blog roll. That's not an affiliate link either.
*If the folks at Cocoa Pura intend to ship wee tasting bags to folks for feedback, I hope they work out the proper freezer-pack-to-wee-bag ratio or only ship in cool weather so we lucky tasters can taste them at their best.