Soma Old School Milk Chocolate bar is nothing short of spectacular. This minimally processed bar looks (and tastes) more like a chocolate cookie than a typical chocolate bar. It is certainly unlike any bar you’ve had before. It’s made of Chuao (Criollo) beans from Venezuela, milk powder and organic cane sugar crystals - nothing more! The texture is dreamy - almost like a soufflé. Imagine the loveliest chocolate shortbread cookie with whole sugar crystals that dissolves beautifully on the palate after a couple of satisfying crunches. In the nose you’ll find aromas of butter cookie and a touch of cinnamon. The taste is just lightly sweet and buttery with subtle notes of rich cocoa powder, toast and almonds. If you prefer dark chocolate, do not fret! This bar also comes in a dark chocolate version made with beans from Madagascar.
- Academy of Chocolate Gold Winner 2018
- International Chocolate Awards World Gold 2017
Chuao beans are premium and rare. Chuao is a small village located in the northern coastal range of Venezuela where cacao plantations have been thriving for over 400 years. Chuao beans are some of the most expensive in the world because of their high quality and limited availability. Scarcely 20 tons of cacao are available each year.
Experts agree that the Chuao are choice beans not only because of their unique genetics but also because of the intense work of La Empresa Campesina of Chuao during the pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest. This female-run company has exclusive rights to harvest the Chuao beans. Their excellent farming, fermenting and drying techniques have been passed on from generation to generation, and therefore, the exceptional quality of the Chuao cacao beans has remained consistent throughout the years.
La Empresa Campesina of Chuao and their partners have created a Traceability Certificate to ensure that only the Chuao beans harvested in the Chuao village wind up in chocolate bars that are marketed as Chuao origin. Only a few chocolate makers, including Soma and a few other Barometer Chocolate favorites, such as Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé and Chapon, are assigned an allotment of Chuao beans and an identifying serial number. This is what the traceability certificate looks like:
Husband and wife team, David Castellan and Cynthia Leung turned their hobby and passion into a business in 2003 and are now considered among the best chocolate makers in the world.
Their delicious and beautiful micro-batch bars regularly win top prizes at the International Chocolate Awards, and my teacher, Dr. Maricel Presilla, co-founder and Americas Director of the International Chocolate Awards is their fan not only because they produce superior craft chocolate, but also because when they don't receive an award they are genuinely interested in learning what they need to do to improve their next batch of bars. Cynthia and David listen and take criticism with appreciation and a desire to do their absolute best, implementing the advice of experts with dedication and humility.
In their former careers, David was pulling late nights as a pastry chef and Cynthia worked long days at an architecture firm. They draw upon their rarefied skills to do their beautiful work creating all things chocolate at SOMA, with a long list of high-quality, tasty confections, as well as single origin bars made from the most exclusive of beans. These treats are available in their two specialty shops and Cocoa Bean Lab in Toronto, or you can find several of their amazing bars and treats right here, at Barometer Chocolate!
I was drawn to Soma Chocolate not only because it is mind-blowing, but also because of the name. You see, as a proud resident of the South Orange / Maplewood, New Jersey community, also referred to as "Soma," I feel it is my civic duty to carry this stellar brand. Cynthia and David chose to name their dreamy company "Soma" as a nod to the drink used in ancient India as part of the Vedic culture. It was likely a juice made from a hallucinogenic mountain plant that was considered a sacred drink, similar to ambrosia. In fact, it was regarded as a drink of the gods. In Aldous Huxley's book Brave New World, Soma represents a way to escape pain, discomfort, embarrassment, sadness and anger, all while enhancing joy, arousal and an overall sense of well being. I'll raise my square of Soma Chocolate to that!
The craft chocolate industry has exploded since Cynthia and Dan started Soma in 2003. I love and admire their approach to artisanal chocolate making. When asked if Soma has visions of expansion in a 2018 interview, Cynthia said, "I never thought there would be so many opportunities to grow big, and I never thought that's what we'd be trying to avoid, but we just want to stay small - and great." Amen to that.
- Ingredients: Chuao Cacao Nibs, Milk Powder, Organic Cane Sugar
- Net Weight: 90g. / 3.7 oz.
- Country of Origin: Canada