When Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote this he was probably referring to something other than chocolate making. However, the process of making real chocolate as they do at Bahen & Co has required an extra virtuous level of patience.
Only a few years ago, winemaker Josh Bahen didn’t even like chocolate. But when he tasted a single origin stone ground bar of chocolate for the first time, he was won over. Knocked out by the natural fruit and flavor of ‘real’ chocolate he quickly started researching how he could create amazing chocolate too.
As a winemaker he knew about complexity of flavor. Like great wine, great chocolate relies on pure, perfect ingredients. You can’t make great wine with inferior grapes and you can’t make great chocolate with inferior cacoa beans. Commercial or ‘supermarket’ chocolate is filled with sugar, milk, cocoa butter, emulsifiers and other ingredients to mask the substandard chocolate.
Just like winemaking, terroir is imperative in producing superior cacoa. Josh and Jacqui Bahen source heirloom variety cacao beans directly from subsistence growers in remote areas of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Madagascar. This not only ensures supply and gives the farmers a better price for their crop it encourages these subsistence growers to develop more eco-friendly and sustainable practices. The Bahens work with NGO’s and AusAid to ensure the farmers higher returns for better cacoa beans.
The Bahens practice ‘addition by subtraction’ to ensure a spectacular product – just cacao beans and cane sugar. No additives are necessary as the premium beans are fermented and dried slowly by the growers and transported to one of the world’s most picturesque culinary regions: Margaret River in Australia’s south west. Here the beans are painstakingly roasted, winnowed, stone ground, conched and tempered using old world machinery to capture the true essence of the heirloom beans. Preserving the integrity of the cacao is paramount to ensuring a delicious chocolate.But, how does it taste? Unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. Tasting Bahen & Co chocolate is not unlike trying a great wine for the first time. All 4 varieties are 70% cacao but never bitter. Soft, full, fruity, smooth, complex and extremely satisfying all at once: The Madagascar has citrus notes, the Almond and Sea Salt is delicately scattered with fine, flaked almonds and the Brazil is bold, with a unique deep cocoa richness.
The road from ‘bean to bar’ is an exotic journey from tropical climes to the gourmet paradise of Margaret River. But, the reality is to make chocolate this good requires not only great beans but a lot of hard work. Josh and Jacqui do this daily and the result is chocolate so good, you’ll never go back to that supermarket stuff ever again.www.bahenchocolate.com