TCHO is an American chocolate maker (and they differentiate between “chocolate maker” and “chocoatier”) that is, according to their website, determined to make the best chocolate possible. Like so many others, they are focused on fair trade organic chocolate. While the website is rather problematic (there’s no “About Us” page, and I wasn’t able to find a product listing), there is information on the company and their practices if you’re willing to do a little digging.
Three of their offerings wound up on my desk recently, and I have to admit, they are all excellent. Where to start?
TCHO Orange + Toffee is noted at 64% cacao, which means it’s real dark chocolate. As a self-confessed chocolate purist, I’m not necessarily enthusiastic about flavored chocolates, but I have to admit, this one got four stars. After all, orange and chocolate is one of the classic combinations, and this one treats both very well. As might be expected, the texture is quite firm, almost brittle, while the flavor is nicely balanced between the chocolate and orange; the toffee provides a bit of crunch. The aftertaste is sweet — the orange lingers just under the surface, and there’s a slightly buttery quality.
Next up is the Almond + Sea Salt, again at 64% cacao. The texture is somewhat more brittle than the previous offering, and becomes a little chewy as it warms in the mouth. Although the various product blurbs I did find noted “hefty chunks of sea salt”, I found the sea salt to be somewhat understated, and, while there’s some crunch, I credited it to the sizable bits of almond in the bar. (Another classic combination.) It’s a near-perfect blend of flavors. The aftertaste is, again, a little sweet, cut somewhat by the salt. Even for a purist like yours truly, this is a winner.
And, saving the best for last, the Dark Chocolate, pure and simple, at 70% cacao. The texture is brittle — no two ways about it — and it becomes a little chewy as you chew. (That’s a plus, as far as I’m concerned.) The flavor is full and rich, definitely chocolate without the bitterness that so often comes with a high percentage of cacao. The aftertaste is slightly sweet, with earthy undertones. It’s a very satisfying piece of candy.
In addition to their eating chocolate, TCHO also produces chocolates for cooking. As far as their goal of making the best chocolate in the world, if they’re not quite there yet, they’re well on their way. (Oh, by the way, about the name: it’s really quite simple — it’s the phonetic spelling of the first syllable of “chocolate.” There, wasn’t that easy?)