Castronovo makes fine small-batch craft chocolate in Stuart, Florida. Founder Denise Castronovo sources rare and unique cacao from Central and South America to make award-winning bars. The shiny gold wrapping inside the beautifully illustrated box looks like Willy Wonka's winning chocolate bar and makes the experience all the better.
Belize Maya Mountain
Aroma: cocoa mulch, nice rich soil earthiness, raisin, spices, leather, black pepper, dates
Flavor: dark toast and toasted peanut flavors, mellow red fruit – notes of raspberry with just a slight
tanginess, some brown fruit/mild sweet molasses notes, some savoriness – soy sauce
Recommendation: Highly recommended. A great bar, especially if you enjoy chocolate in which more savory and darker – but not bitter – notes are brought out. My favorite Maya Mountain bar of all time remains Dick Taylor’s, but the two would make an excellent same origin/different maker comparison tasting.
Batch info: Batch no. 930, Enjoy by August 2021
Puerto Rico 70%
Aroma: dark fruit, raisin, dried fig, cherry, honey
Flavor: Grape, raisin, chocolate pudding, malt, seeds, dark caramel, hot cocoa, soft fruit flavors like peach
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Beautiful smooth and complex flavors
Batch info: Batch no. 856; Enjoy by January 2021
Mexico Soconusco 70%
Aroma: soft aroma - a little starchy and sweet, like marshmallows, a slightly smoky, meaty aroma upon first opening like beef jerky; mushroom, hint of smoke, malt, raw sugar, nutty - hazelnut, peanut butter, leather
Flavor: Very mellow apricot, rich nutty flavors - macadamia nut richness, hazelnuts, and heavy cream, toasted grain, malt powder. Soft notes of juicy red fruit. Complex dark sweetness - dark brown sugar, molasses, dried blueberries, port, prune, raisin. Chocolate goat cheese frosting, chocolate covered cherry. Pleasantly savory and rich, with flavors lingering for a long time.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Another excellent bar from Castronovo with smooth, complex flavor and lovely texture.
Batch info: Batch no. 834, Enjoy by December 2020
Colombia Sierra Nevada Criollo + Trinitario - 72%
Aroma: rich, buttery, fudge, lightly roasted coffee, hint of passion fruit, cookies, honey, raisins, figs, peanut butter, licorice, anise, cocoa powder, leather
Flavor: A soft Trinitario tangy/fruity kick - yellow fruit, dried blueberries, raspberry – along with some woody flavors and very slight yellow fruit/walnut skin astringency, plus some nice criollo nuttiness, walnuts and some dark sweetness, spice, and herbaceous notes: gingerbread with crystalized ginger and molasses, anise, licorice, vanilla, brown fruit, figs, even something like root beer with a hint of wintergreen – but all well-balanced and mellow.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Overall mild, interesting, and very pleasant.
Batch info: Batch no. 746, Enjoy by January 2020
Honduras Lost City Wild Trinitario - 72%
Aroma: mild and sweet, butterscotch, creamy peanut butter, mahlab, hint of fruit, dried figs, seeds, sweet dried grass
Flavor: nut or seed butter, criollo-like, mild and nutty, walnut, walnut skin, hazelnut, roasted almonds, fig jam, maybe some raspberries but not as a dominant flavor, cooked grains, malt, peanut butter, nut butter or sunflower seed butter, milk, honey, milk chocolate peanut butter cups, peanut butter pudding, a hint of green astringency, a complexity that lingers long enough to make it interesting.
Recommendation: Highly recommended, especially if you love subtlety and delicate Nutella and criollo flavors - you will find this bar beautiful.
Batch info: Batch no. 706, Enjoy by July 2019
Venezuela Patenemo 70%
Aroma: leather, walnut shells, dry soil
Flavor: A well-balanced mix of darker flavors and brighter fruit flavors: earthy – mineral soil, some bitterness/dark roast flavors, coffee, licorice, black tea, mild astringency, all beautifully complemented by grape juice, red fruit, dried fruit - raisin, dried blueberry.
Recommendation: Highly recommended, especially for tasters who enjoy some darker flavors but without too much bitterness. The mix of flavor types builds a great multi-layered complexity.
Batch info: Batch 846, Enjoy by November 2020
Venezuela Amazonas 72% Wild Cacao
Aroma: cocoa powder, damp leaves, dusty, mineral, leather, toasted nuts
Flavor: In the beginning, earthy and soil flavors dominate, with some grapefruit bitterness. The bitterness is more distinct than some of Castronovo’s other bars but is well balanced. The flavor expands as it melts, developing a good complexity with a slight fruitiness and some mild tannic astringency.
Recommendation: Recommended. Personally, I like the Honduras, Soconusco, Sierra Nevada, and Puerto Rico bars better, as I found them less bitter and slightly more complex. However, this bar is well made and expresses the unique flavor of these beans, so I would still recommended it, especially if you like bars that tend a little more towards darker flavors. Two of our tasters loved it for that reason. Overall, yet another expressive and carefully crafted bar from Castronovo!
Batch info: Batch no. 849; Enjoy by November 2020