Matale is an artisan chocolate maker based in Melbourne, one of a handful to employ the bean to bar process in Australia.
The bean to bar method involves crafting chocolate from the cocoa nibs found inside the husks of a cocoa bean. The cocoa tree is grown in small plantations and the beans are harvested by hand. They are then roasted and following this the husk and the cocoa nibs are separated using a process called winnowing. The cocoa nibs are then combined with the sugar and crushed to a paste through a stone melangeur where the paste is warmed into a liquid and then set into bars.
Roasting the cocoa beans allows Matale to develop a signature taste of the chocolate. Just like coffee beans are roasted into a number of special blends, the same can be done with cocoa beans. As a result of the process each yearly batch is different and unique.
Matale chocolate is made in Australia from cocoa, organic sugar and cocoa butter; all ingredients can be traced to their exact origins. The chocolate contains NO dairy and nuts. The cocoa beans are sourced from small farms and Matale work with the farmers directly to form a strong fruitful partnership. The chocolate making process is completed all in house (in Melbourne), Matale are able to control the creation process of their beautiful chocolate.
We were privileged to taste two of the varieties from Matale’s 2013 batch. The first was the 68% cocoa from the Madagascar plantation. It was bitter and dark with a slight citrus after taste, giving me warming mouth shivers. I think it would be great to pair with a bold red cabernet or merlot, even a milky cappuccino. This bar is one for a dark chocolate lover through and through.
The second bar was the 72% cocoa from the Malekula plantation. Surprisingly it was not as bitter and softer than the 68% blend. The flavour slowly develops with a smokey aftertaste.
The packaging of the chocolate bars disclose a host of details such as the year of harvest, percentage of cocoa, the strain of cocoa beans (there are three) and location of harvest. The chocolates are wrapped in heavy foil preserving and guaranteeing a fresh product.
We often hear that chocolate is good for the body and mind, I now think the reference must be of the bean to bar chocolate and not the mass produced chocolate that use too much sugar and flavours to develop the taste. Flip the packet over of a mass produced chocolate product, the first ingredient is full cream milk followed by sugar and then cocoa butter and cocoa mass, milk solids, emulsifiers (soy lecithin 476) and flavours.
The first ingredient in Matale chocolate is cocoa followed by only two others – organic sugar and cocoa butter. Life should be simple and so should chocolate!
Matale for the larger part supply to wholesalers however it is possible to purchase a bar from one of their stockists or even online through mail order.
Christmas is around the corner and I think an artisan chocolate bean to bar would be the perfect gift for any chocolate lover.
22A Plateau Road,reservoir, Melbourne
Victoria 3073, Australia.