Aged for 18 months in a 50-year-old French oak Cognac cask, and priced at $345 (€315). This is not the description of a premium whiskey however, but of the world’s most expensive chocolate bar.
The cacao beans used to produce To’ak Chocolate are sourced exclusively from 14 cacao growers in the valley of Piedra de Plata, Ecuador, and then fermented, before being roasted and turned into the final product.
To’ak claims the fermentation process results in an evolution of flavor profile, as similar to wine chocolate is rich in both tannins and other polyphenols. These compounds, also called flavonoids, largely determine what we taste in a wine or dark chocolate and how it feels in our mouth. Over time, these compounds are chemically altered through processes such as oxidation, becoming more flavourful.
While the most expensive Vintage 2014 edition, of which there were only 100 produced, is aged in a French oak Cognac cask for 18 months years. Other bars, starting from $260 (€230), are aged in Spanish Elm wood casks for five to seven days.
The same Spanish elm is used in the bar’s extravagant and award winning packaging: a handcrafted wood box that is individually engraved with the bar number. The box includes tasting utensils, so the oils from your fingers don’t tarnish the pristine bar, and a 116-page booklet that tells the story behind the sourcing of the cacao beans and provides a guide to the ritual of dark chocolate tasting.
Produced in limited batches, only two ingredients are used in the aged USDA Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate: cacao mass and cane sugar. In the middle of the bar is a single roasted cacao bean that was measured and hand-selected by the co-founders themselves. Each bar is hand brushed before being approved for packaging.
If you can’t afford the chocolate, spending a night on the farm itself comes in at a much more affordable $15 a night, with breakfast and dinner included. You never know, there might be a complimentary chocolate on your bed on arrival.