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Cocanu Chocolate Review

Sebastian Cisneros, the founder of Cocanu.
Just the other day, I got involved in a lively discussion on a forum about the strangest chocolate combinations we have ever tried. I have to say that there are some strange unions out there, and I have tried quite a few of them --mushrooms, olives, bacon, curry, figs, Pop Rocks and peppercorns, to name a few -- some surprisingly delicious and others interesting at best. One I ended up spitting out, and one I refused to try based on how awful it smelled. In general, I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food, and I'm glad I didn't turn my nose up at the more peculiar Cocanu bars. 

I quickly tossed in my latest picks for most unusual combinations into the fray, two Cacanu chocolate bars, one that's infused with wood and one that contains Fernet Branca, a bitter drink made in Italy. Before you wrinkle your nose, let me tell you that it works. I know! How bizarre. After trying these eye-opening chocolates, though, it almost seems strange to add them to the weird combination list. Despite the sound of it, these flavors work incredibly well together.

Cocanu is a Portland-based chocolate company founded by innovative chocolatier Sebastian Cisneros, who was born in Ecuador and moved to Oregon when he was 17. Everything about the hand-crafted, small-batch chocolate bars expands the mind, from the individually wax-sealed packages to the classy, minimalist-looking chocolate squares. There's much to be appreciated.

From the Cocanu website:

"two hands producing chocolate bars. 
We redress fine chocolate. 

By giving chocolate a tickle, we stray away from the island of perfection and tumble into an unknown territory of raucous beauty.

Surfaced in September, 2009, 
in Portland, Oregon."

As many people who read my blog know, I get excited when I see anything with hazelnuts in it. Chocolate and hazelnut is probably my favorite combination, so I couldn't resist getting Cocanu's Gardel bar. This is a bar made with Ecuadorian cacao, Oregon hazelnuts and Italian Fernet Branca.

This interesting and intriguing bar has a gentle sweetness that emerges only after the first impressions of smoky wood and spicy, earthy chocolate hit your palate. What a unique flavor! There's something familiar yet foreign, strange and alluring about this bar. The bouquet is floral, but it's not too powerful, which is good, as anything too fragrant would detract from the chocolate. The beauty of this bar is that the flavors mingle ever so seductively and brilliantly together, each undertone emerging briefly to the forefront and then receding to give a different flavor a turn with the chocolate taste consistently holding its own, steadily tapping the taste buds. If you want something different, this is the bar for you.

The hazelnuts add a nice crunch, though they are sparsely dispersed. Oddly enough, despite the bar being a 72 percent dark chocolate, it has qualities of milk chocolate such as caramel undertones and tastes lighter than many dark chocolates. 

There's a definite bitterness from the Fernet Branca that's not too potent. It's just enough to wake up your taste buds and get them ready for experiencing the chocolate more fully, like the pleasant bitterness associated with a good cup of coffee.

The other bar I tried was the Holy Wood bar made with wild Criollo cacao from the Bolivian Amazon. The bar is infused with Palo Santo wood found in Ecuador. Palo Santo is considered a sacred wood and is often use by shamans in ceremonies. Burning the wood is said to ward off negativity and evil spirits and aid in healing. It can be used much like sage to purify, but it's also said that it helps raise energetic vibrations. It also keeps the mosquitoes away!

Palo Santo

The Holy Wood bar is very lightly aromatic and perfumy, but there's a deep, rich cocoa flavor in this bar. There's also a very slight smoky flavor, but the smooth, quality chocolate is fruity with hints of blueberries and coffee that stand out. I detected a mild bitter aftertaste that wasn't unpleasant. It's the cocoa flavor that clings to your palate and is the most pronounced. The various undertones are subtle.

If you happen to be up at 2 a.m. and sample these bars, be prepared for your creative juices to start flowing as you become increasingly alert. Whether it's because of the chocolate itself or the uncommon additions in the bars, you will find that consuming Cocanu chocolates is a life-changing experience. 

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Tags: chocolate, cocanu, review


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