Asian flavours triumph with first batch of Academy of Chocolate winners

The annual Academy of Chocolate Awards has released its first batch of winners, revealing Asian flavours as a clear major trend within the bean-to-bar market, reports Neill Barston.

As the UK-based organisation noted, Taiwan was described as “a source of innovation”, representing a high proportion of awards in both plain and flavoured categories.

Among the core winners, Ping Tung-based Fu Wan Chocolate secured gold in the tree-to-bar flavoured (dark) category for its Red Oolong tea 62% chocolate and six of Fu Wan’s products experimentally fermented with beer, red wine yeast or floral yeast won bronze in the tree-to-bar plain (dark) category.

Japanese flavours such as yuzu, miso, sake, shoyu and hojicha and matcha teas were also well represented among the winners, with a higher proportion of entries and awards from Asia and the Americas this year.

Sweets Escalier’s Ecuador Pajarito Milk 72% With Shio Koji took a gold in the bean-to-bar flavoured (milk) category.
Silver awards went to Takahashi Trading’s Nicof + Sake Powder and Sacha + Matcha Okumidori bars in the bean-to-bar flavoured (dark) category; and to Satoyama Craft Chocolate (Salt) By Fujino Ryohinten in the bean-to-bar seasoned (dark) category.

This year saw 170 tree-to-bar entries, with 900 entries across all categories, and 83 awards handed out in total across tree-to-bar categories.

High cocoa percentage bars (90%-100%) also continued to do well in the top awards, with gold going to three products in the bean-to-bar plain category: Chocopunto By Mabel 95% Dark Chocolate – Oko Caribe, Fjåk Chocolate 100% Dark Uganda; and Goodnow Farms Chocolate Special Reserve 100% Cacao.

Chantal Coady, Chair of the Academy of Chocolate, who is on the editorial board of Confectionery Production welcome the wide variety of this year’s entries.

She said: “Huge congratulations to all our winners. The awards continue to go from strength to strength and judges were so impressed with the calibre of entrants and the determination, particularly of tree-to-bar producers, who against all odds have produced numerous excellent examples of chocolate of the highest quality.

“There is so much greater awareness in recent years that, however carefully crafted and evocative of origin, chocolate also serves as an indulgence, a source of sensory delight and comfort in difficult times, hence the continued popularity and excellence of flavoured craft bars.” See here for the full list of winners.

The awards are judged by leading chocolatiers, producers, journalists, bloggers, food writers, and other chocolate experts from across the industry. Products are marked on appearance, depth of aroma and flavour, length and complexity.

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