By Benjamin Skipper
Hachez chocolatier is one of my company interests by virtue of the fact they offer fruit infusion bars at the very high cocoa percentage of 77%, whereas most companies usually only produce stand-alone chocolate beyond 75%. I'm particularly fond of sweet and bitter combinations in my treats, hence my curiosity. While the texture needs some work, I'm fond of their 77% blackberry bar, and now have reached in my stash their darkest offering, their 88% cocoa Premier Cru bar.
Unfortunately, this chocolate was a huge disappointment. The only thing I could find that I liked about it is its bold red cardboard sleeve, which, while the empty space could be used more constructively, is very eye catching and elegant. The bar itself is a huge flat rectangle, square around the edges, with the Hachez brand signed on each square division, making for just acceptable aesthetics. Additionally, it's "dusty"and covered with bronze specks, but at least has a heavy snap. It smells faintly of dull cocoa and has the monotone taste of stale chocolate that's so mild it's almost flavorless matter. The texture is atrocious in that each bite almost positively refuses to melt in the mouth, making for a very crunchy and dry experience that makes me think I'm eating a child's plastic building blocks. Nothing about this was particularly bad so to speak, but everything is so bland, flat, and unimpressive that this bar was not at all worth bothering with. Worse yet, I paid nearly five dollars for the thing.
I'm very skeptical of Hachez's status now since at their website they like to advertise their ideal processes, such as 72 hour conching, but my tasting obviously indicates that particular products such as this variety doesn't undergo these ideal processes. I think they're trying to word their manufacturing habits in a misleading way that makes it sound as if all their products were produced that way, when the reality is that only some, or maybe none of their offerings go through these motions; or else they word matters in meaningless generalities. When they word their conching process as lasting "up to" 72 hours that's only an upper limit which does nothing to explain how many hours they actually conch their chocolate for.
Nonetheless, the sweet and bitter pairing of the blackberry bar was still a satisfying experience, so I'm still anticipating with gustatory excitement other of Hachez's treats. This one in isolation is worth staying away from, unfortunately.