The current allocation of the $345 a bar To’ak Chocolate has been snapped up by those looking to truly impress their loved ones on Valentine’s day
If you feel like stamping your foot or exclaiming Damn and blast! Don’t worry as you can avoid repeating the disappointment by putting your name down on the waiting list. You’ll need to be quick as it is already open and quickly filling up with pre-orders for their next vintage editions, which includes chocolate aged for 2 years in a Laphroaig Scotch Barrel and 3 years in a French oak Cognac Cask.
For the sweet-toothed readers among you that are not familiar with To’ak Chocolate, the following should help.
To’ak was born from a rainforest conservation project started in 2007, in a province of Ecuador that is to cacao what the French province of Burgundy is to wine. It was here that co-founder Jerry Toth began cultivating cacao trees and making chocolate in a thatched bamboo house secluded in the middle of the forested mountains of the Jama-Coaque Reserve. The powerfully floral aroma that wafted from these early experiments was his first clue that Ecuadorian cacao was unlike any other. After years of honing his passion, Jerry eventually linked up with co-founder Carl Schweizer and fourth-generation Ecuadorian cacao grower Servio Pachard. Their mission was to change the way that the world experiences dark chocolate.
The Aging Process
To’ak’s co-founders concede that if the science behind wine ageing is still not fully out of the woods, the science behind chocolate ageing is stuck in a cave. To explore this question, they contacted a wide range of winemakers, master sommeliers, professors of enology, and even molecular scientists. Their findings are revealed in an 116-page booklet that accompanies each engraved box of vintage chocolate.
Dark chocolate and wine are both rich with tannins and other polyphenols. These compounds, also called flavonoids, largely determine what we taste in a wine or dark chocolate and how it feels in our mouth. Over time, these compounds are chemically altered through processes such as oxidation. Ageing dark chocolate or wine can allow the perception of astringency to decrease. This can produce a more rounded flavour profile and reveal subtle flavour notes that had previously been overshadowed. To’ak is currently working with enology researchers to quantify this process and analyse tannin content of chocolate as it ages.
To’ak chocolate is sourced from heirloom Nacional cacao in the valley of Piedra de Plata, Ecuador. To’ak’s cacao has recently received the prestigious Heirloom designation from the Fine Chocolate Industry Association.
Each chocolate bar produced by To’ak is presented in a hand-crafted Spanish Elm wood box that is individually engraved with the bar number. Each box includes an 116-page booklet that comprehensively explores the science behind the ageing of dark chocolate, drawing heavily from the science behind ageing wine. Also included with each box is a pair of hand-made tasting utensils.