François Pralus

One of the biggest names in bean-to-bar chocolate, François Pralus makes excellent bars from 15 origins around the world. The son of Auguste Pralus, a pastry chef who earned France's prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France award in 1955, François Pralus carried on the family tradition. In 2000 he bought a cacao plantation in Madagascar, which today is the source of some of Pralus's most delicious chocolate.

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Le 100% - Madagascar Sambirano Valley Criollo

 

Aroma: rich chocolate, roasted hazelnuts, a caramel note

 

Flavor: Toasted almonds, some red fruit sourness but not unpleasant – not surprising with Madagascar beans, silky smooth texture, very intense, not particularly bitter, hints of smoke, wood, and earth, no noticeable astringency. Nuanced flavors and sweetness come through the intensity of the pure cacao.

 

Recommendation: Highly recommended. Well-rounded and approachable - a good place to start when trying 100% bars. Based on the thick, smooth texture and mellow flavor, I would guess a fair amount of cocoa butter is added, for a very pleasant result. One of my favorite 100% bars.

 

Batch info: Best by October 2, 2021

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Tanzania 75%

Aroma: dried mushroom, dark roast

 

Flavor: faint spice, toasted almonds, honey, chocolate pudding. Not very complex, kind of a homogenized mass-market dark chocolate flavor with few distinctive notes.

 

Recommendation: It’s ok, certainly not bad but not exciting either. I’ve found Pralus to be hit and miss – some great bars and some average bars. I’d choose a Tanzania bar from Dandelion, Letterpress, Mirzam, Monsoon, Solstice, or Original Beans instead.

 

Batch info: Best before November 23, 2020

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Papua New Guinea 75%

 

Aroma: cinnamon, woody, spicy

Flavor: Rich, deep chocolate flavor. Slight fruitiness – raspberry, blueberry, apple. A soft floral creaminess. The slightest bit of cocoa powder dustiness on the end.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. A beautifully balanced bar with a full yet delicate chocolate flavor. Similar to Pralus Ghana.

Batch info: Best before November 23, 2020

Madagascar 75%

 

Aroma: very mild

Flavor: mild, marshmallow, a little starchiness, soft red fruit – dried raspberries, some earthy/dry soil flavors, slight bitterness.

Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. This is a pleasant bar but as far as Madagascar goes, it’s a bit flat. Dick Taylor, Dandelion, and Valrhona all do a better job of making Madagascar’s characteristic tangy red fruit flavors pop.

Batch info: Best before November 23, 2020

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Indonesia 75%

 

Aroma: smoke but soft, fresh wood

 

Flavor: Slightly burnt, dusty cocoa powder, slightly starchy, kind of bland

 

Recommendation: Not recommended.

 

Batch info: Best before November 23, 2020

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Ghana 75%

 

Aroma: cinnamon graham crackers, cocoa powder

 

Flavor: deep rich chocolate, brownies, chocolate pudding, chocolate ice cream, jam, roasted almonds, roasted peanut butter, softer notes of vanilla and dark fruit at the end – raspberry and blackberry.

 

Recommendation: Highly recommended. Lots of deep classic chocolate flavor with soft notes of fruit and nuts. Ghana is known for beans with a rich, classic chocolate flavor, and this bar offers that along with more nuance than most.

 

Batch info: Best before November 23, 2020

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Djakarta 75%

Aroma: smoke (but not burnt), dried mushrooms, campfire, smoked paprika

 

Flavor: smoky but not burnt, mushroom, especially dried mushrooms, very slight red fruit, deeply toasted biscuits, soil, some sourness, coffee grounds, brownie underneath

 

Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. This bar has distinct and unusual flavors, and some tasters liked it a lot. It would also be an incredible choice for savory recipes such as mole or chili. As an eating chocolate, some people may not care for the smoky, earthy flavors.

 

Batch info: Best before August 28, 2020

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Caracas Trinitario 75%

 

Aroma: anise, licorice, fennel, graham crackers, spicy wood, orange peel, toasted malt

 

Flavor: a mix of creamy nuttiness and darker roasted flavors, slight sourness. Almond, brownie, very slight green notes, apricot jam, cream. Cinnamon teddy grahams, Macadamia nuts, seeds (not quite sunflower but similar), a little green/grassy but not strong. Starts out with cocoa powder, a little sour, mellows to seeds, saltines.

 

Recommendation: Recommended with reservations. This is actually Venezuelan beans mixed with Ghana and two other unspecified origins. Both Ghana and Venezuela come through and the overall flavor is nice, but some of the nuances are lost in the blending. Not great, but a satisfying dark chocolate. Reminiscent of Dove dark chocolate.

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