June 25th: Zotter Labooko Ein BlumenstrauB
Recently I have been sampling many of the flavours from Zotter's Hand-Scooped bars range, but some of you may recall me dipping in to another part of their range called Labooko a few months ago. Indeed, the Nicaragua 60% and Peru 40% bars I tried in my last Labooko review reaffirmed the point that Zotter should be recognised as a high quality chocolate producer, and not just a brand renowned for it's wild flavour combinations.
Saying that, just when I thought that the Labooko range was the less adventurous side of Zotter's portfolio, things really couldn't have got anymore 'wild' with this Ein BlumenstrauB offering that I am reviewing today. For those not fluent in German, I believe Ein BlumenstrauB means 'a bouquet', and the 70.0g package consisted of two separate 35.0g bars.
The beautiful looking packaging was adorned with another fine looking Gratze illustration, and it of course opened up the in unique Labooko style (a bit like a book). Once I had finished carefully opening the wrapper up (it was so nice looking it would have been awful to carelessly rip it open!), I prised apart the inner golden foil wrappers to reveal two very unique looking chocolates. If you look at the photos above you will see that both had small flecks of dried flowers sat on the bottom side of each bar. I had never seen anything like it to be honest - it looked brilliant, but of course it was going to be a matter of how they affected the taste.
Zotter Labooko Ecuador 60% Milk with Roses (Bottom Darker Bar) - This was very similar in taste to the Nicaragua 60% bar I reviewed in my last Labooko review, though there was a certain little something offered by the roses that added to experience ever so slightly. Just as I experienced before, this 60% recipe offered a smooth flowing cocoa taste that had a pleasant undercurrent of milk present throughout. It was certainly a richer, full bodied chocolate than your average milk chocolate, though it wasn't ever anything overly imposing or bordering on being bitter as it maintained a consistent sweetness. During the later stages of the chocolate melting, the dry bits of flowers first became noticeable in texture, but then increasingly so in the sweet, floral finish. The effect on the aftertaste was certainly pleasant, but the slight roughness it brought to the melt was less so.
8.3 out of 10
Zotter Labooko Cashew Nougat with Meadow Flowers (Top Lighter Bar) - This chocolate came billed as an entirely different proposition to the Ecuador 60% and constituted of 26% cocoa solids and 23% cashews. To be honest this was more of a gianduja chocolate rather than a solid chocolate bar so it won't surprise you to hear the pace of melt and flavour delivery were very different. The bar itself was very soft when cut into and it melted at nearly twice the pace of your average chocolate with a very pleasant smouldering softness. Although the melt was fast, the taste was flavoursome and delivered a fine plethora of honey, nut, vanilla and cream flavours. In terms of richness and depth, this chocolate wasn't comparable to that above, but the flavours were just so moreish and beautifully contrasting with the nutty salt licks and floral sweetness. Similarly to the Ecuador bar, the assortment of meadow flowers did feel somewhat awkward in terms of feel in the mouth, but that could be excused given their flavour contribution.
8.4 out of 10
Overall this was another fine collection that included two very different chocolates. When I opened the intricate packaging and saw the flowers lining the bottom of both bars I did somewhat fear that Zotter had finally given in to a gimmick and included them just to create a theme rather than them actually adding some to the taste department. Thankfully when it came to the actual taste test, it soon became evident that the flower bits included in both chocolates were there for more than just decoration. I have to say I wasn't all that partial to their bitty, rough contributions to the texture of both bar's melts, but both the rose flowers in the Ecudaor 60% and the meadow flowers (daisies, corn-flowers and marigolds) in the cashew bar brought vital flavour contributions that added nicely to the experience. I don't think I would like to see dried flower pieces added to all my chocolates going forward, but Zotter proved once again you can't rule out using any sort of ingredient to enhance the naturals flavours of chocolate. If you are intrigued this Labooko duo is certainly worth a look at.