Askinosie Chocolate Kicks Askinosie

It isn’t every day that a new, serious, bad boy chocolate maker comes on the scene. But one hath arrived: Askinosie chocolate.

“Bad boy?” you say. “What kind of street creds does this Askinosie Chocolate company have, that you confer the rebel-serious badboy status? Askinosie… Any name that is so obscure that it can, in this day and age, still procure its own, unadulterated internet URL is surely just some couch-potato hobbyist toying with co-op cacao beans in a toaster oven.”

Howler MonkeyWell, quite simply, such is not the case. Shawn Askinosie had it all: Money (criminal defense lawyer), Religion (Christian). Enabled by money from the former and obeisance to the latter, he has ventured into that most dark, sensual, and alien land: chocolate. For a man whoKirtland’s Warbler “loved the law since I can remember,” Shawn Askinosie is also manifestly attentive to the call of nature at its most unfathomable, at its most flagrantly indifferent to the constraints of human convention. Askinosie chocolate sings like the savagely furred bellow monkey. Askinosie chocolate also sings like a schoolgirl, like a castrati, like the uber-rare Kirtland’s warbler, and like the family cicada.

Askinosie Soconusco 75% Chocolate bar (85g/3 oz)Askonosie Chocolate’s Soconusco 75% dark chocolate bar is, as far as I know, the first single origin dark chocolate bar to treat Mexican chocolate seriously. This is an excellent dark chocolate in the French tradition. The flavors are a crazy rich combination of earthiness and dried fruits. In fact, why parse the tastes for you, when the bar is freely available. (We sell it online at The Meadow (atthemeadow.com), though Askinosie has also taken the annoying step (why must we square off against The Maker?) of selling it online themselves).

I will share the unfettered critiques of two of my most esteemed critics.

On Askinosie Chocolate the seven year old inveighs. “Dark, a little bit bitter. I think it tastes a little bit like seaweed. Except that it is a little bit stronger. Of the texture, he says, “it kind of has a crunch like ripe coconut.”The four year old, mouth contorted by outlandish phonics: “Askinosie tastes like every kind of treat in the whole wide word.” Later, after a second tablet, he adds, “I was sucking on it for a really, really long time, and it tasted kind of like an ice cream cone.”

My harshest criticisms of Askinosie Chocolate are these: Beautiful packaging (the blotchy type of an old manual Smith Corona typewriter on gorgeous waxy paper promises the mysteries of an explorer’s notebook, lovely tactile insert with pictures, stories, and background information, compostable (corn) plastic inner wrap, sealed with a twist of jute from the bags the cacao beans shipped in, all 100% recyclable), and inside a bar with beautiful mirror (glossy finish), strange and exciting musty nose, a texture and snap that are perhaps too mushy, tannic mouth-feel that is supple enough, and dense, irreverent, faintly dangerous flavors.

But, again, you ask, why “bad boy?”

To me, the answer is simple. Askinosie chocolate makes its own cocoa butter from the same bean. In other words, the single origin Soconusco chocolate bar is made exclusively from cocoa butter and cocoa liquor from the Soconusco cacao beans. Very, VERY few chocolate makers do what Askinosie Chocolate does: make single-origin cocoa butter to put into their single-origin chocolate bars. Most chocolate makers use cocoa butter from any convenient source, or (arguably) at best, deodorized cocoa butter. The use of 1% of single origin Soconusco cocoa butter in Askinosie Chocolate’s Soconusco 75% dark chocolate bar is a sort of drawing-a-line-in-the-sand slash throwing-sand-in-your-face move that only a criminal defense attorney-type chocolate maker could come up with. (One senses a legal challenge here to other makers.)

Askinosie Chocolate San Jose Del Tambo 70% (85g/3 oz)Askinosie also makes a single origin chocolate bar from Ecuador from San Jose del Tambo that is a big basket of dried fruit in a chocolate bar, made with 2% Askinosie San Jose del Tambo cocoa butter. Very nice, with flaws and strengths similar to the Soconusco.

But it is not Asknosie’s studious adherence to the letter of the law (I don’t think there is one), or even principles (the benefits are unclear), that makes him good. It is the simple fact that Askinosie treats single origin dark chocolate as a playing field where he can set his own standards for quality, intrigue, and flavor.

3 Responses to “Askinosie Chocolate Kicks Askinosie”

  1. on 05 Dec 2007 at 6:27 pmGerbert

    Well, I cant agree more.

  2. on 07 Dec 2007 at 12:54 amSteven

    Does anybody know more information about their packging?

  3. [...] the unsurpassed drinking chocolates originating in the “sokonusco” region of Mexico.  Askinosie Chocolate not long ago introduced its own Soconusco chocolate bar from a small band of growers in [...]

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