Saturday, 11 April 2009

Willie's Delectable Cacao

I return triumphant.

It's taken several days, some inside knowledge and a dawn raid on my local stockist but... I have them !

Willie's Delectable cacao bars - Venezuelan 72 Rio Caribe Superior and Peruvian 70 - San Martin.

As I walked home I noticed that my shopping bag was infused with the smell of the cacao - how extraordinary - a rich, warm, slightly cloud forest FLAVOUR was wafting up towards me through the rain.

On my first skirmish to find these new bars, a few days ago, I noticed that although the shelves were bare of Willie's cacao (despite a new sign indicating where they should be), there were still an awful lot of people milling around the aisle.

I stood and watched them for a while, and they all did as I did - they picked up another brand of dark chocolate to try instead. I think it's that feeling of not wanting to go home empty-handed and I couldn't help thinking that Willie had really missed a trick here. His biggest stockist - with no stock, just before Easter and just after Channel 4 had broadcast his series of programmes showing production of the bars over three consecutive evenings. But I would later revise my opinion.

And this is why.

I bought one of the market leading brands thinking - how could it be horrible ? It wasn't cheap and although the packaging for all the dark chocolate is a bit samey, it was a name I recognised and associated with high quality - and, I hoped, taste.

Ummm. Not quite what happened. I broke off a square and nibbled tentatively. Yes certainly the strong flavour of actual cacao came through, but no smell, and the aftertaste was horribly bitter - confirming everything that people have said about dark chocolate. I actually threw the bar away, it wasn't my kind of taste at all.

So it was with some trepidation that I opened the ingeniously packaged Willie's Delectable Cacao. The neat chocolate brown box contains not one but two squares - "one for now, one for then", the packaging tells me. It's a completely different shape to anything else on the shelves; neat and easy to carry around with you but ingenious too. The concept and design is a revelation and a perfect fit - it couldn't be anything other than Willie's chocolate.

So, what if, after all the planning, I didn't like it ? The disappointment would be crushing, not least because I've been recommending Willie's 100% cacao to everyone since it was launched last year.

Again, the smell was incredible as I opened the box. It's stronger from the Venuezuelan 72, and sniffing the box I noticed that Cuban raw cane sugar is used. I'm not sure how easy that is to obtain in the UK and wonder how it influences the flavour, since you can't actually taste any sugar. Inside the two bars are very neatly wrapped with gold paper which is high quality. The bars themselves are glossy and thick, and break with a satisfying snap. And the taste..... it had so many layers, of fruit and chocolate, and something smoky, but my overall impression was of a smooth true chocolate flavour that lasted. For a long time after eating, I could still taste the flavours in my mouth and the most amazing thing was that there was absolutely no bitter aftertaste. After every bite, right at the end, I got a clear tang of lemon warmed by tropical sun.

I found that the chocolate bar reduced my appetite later - something I've heard said before about this chocolate.

It's genius what Willie has done, making a 72% chocolate bar that hasn't a hint of bitterness. I think that those people who bought alternatives when they found the shelves empty of Willie's cacao might have been equally disappointed, and when they too get to snap into one of Willie's squares, the "long forgotten flavours" will be forgotten no more because the flavours are unparallelled.

That the chocolate would be a success was never in doubt for me; how incredible it really does taste .... well, that has been revealing.

Willie has updated his website, and all credit goes to the company behind such innovative design - Link & Co.

Finally, as I read the information on the back of the box, I note that I have one from the 1st batch. I wonder whether I should have eaten it at all ? Shouldn't this be saved for posterity ? My Granny kept a tin of tuna which my Father had caught on honeymoon, and some 20 years later it still sat in her larder. Will anyone be able to resist Willie's Delectable Cacao and should it perhaps be put in a time capsule and buried well out of temptation's reach ?


  1. I am very interested to read your post. I have been searching for Willie's chocolate and have written a brief post on my blog. I can't wait to try it - even more now I have read your review! And that's from someone who can take or leave chocolate. You write very well - I'm off now to read some of your posts on the Royal Ballet.Sarah

  2. Hi Sarah, and thank you very much for your kind words.

    Hope you love the chocolate when you get to try it, and I've posted some more comments on your excellent blog.

  3. Hi there. Great blog.

    I was fascinated by Willie's programme and finally succumbed to purchasing the Peruvian 70 in Waitrose on the weekend.

    In my opinion his chocolate is an absolute triumph and is the most flavoursome chocolate I have ever tasted. I have always like dark chocolate but yes, it can be too bitter on occasion. Well, this is deep and dark and the flavour lives on for a while after you've finished eating it.

    I don't actually eat a lot of chocolate as I find the commercial bars too be too sweet and just full of sugar. If ever I want a bit of chocolate again, I'll be heading for Willies products on the shelf.


  4. Thanks very much Anon.

    Can you believe that Willie's chocolate bars are already selling on eBay for £9.99 ? They are still available to buy for £2.99 and for myself, I'd rather Willie got the profit after all his hard work and inspiring story - not to mention his long-suffering & massively supportive family.

    I agree, the Peruvian 70 is very flavoursome indeed. Funnily enough I thought I'd prefer it to the Venezuelan 72 but having tried both, I prefer the 72. Maybe it's because I've already tried cooking with his 100% cacao bars, I've got used to the stronger flavour - but for me it tastes the best. It's a meal in itself - I don't feel hungry afterwards and I love the way that a bite of chocolate doesn't just melt away quickly - I mean, it does melt of course, but slowly because it's thicker and the flavours are revealed gradually, so that you have the taste long after you've finished eating.

    I know there was a mix up with the cacao delivery but I hope that at some point Willie can make bars with the nuts and spices flavours that his 100% cacao bars have. They would be dynamite !

  5. I'm Irish and I just recieved the peruvian 70, I cant wait to try it!! I got some of the 100% too just to have it. I thought the show was great, really shows you where the quality is in chocolate.

  6. most stores have now sold out but you can still get it from e-bay. i brought mine from deancpw on e-bay and it was recieved the next day. i did complain that it was expensive when it was only 2.99 in waitrose but he advised that waitrose would buy it from willie for under £1 per bar so they are makeing 200% profit per bar. so he says it is ok for him to make 200% per bar as well and he also has to wait in a que at the post office for upto 45 mins to post it. which seemes to make sense to me.

  7. Hi Elise,
    Terry here from Taxi Studio...
    Thanks for such a great write up on both Willie's Delectable Cacao, the packaging and the website. Loving the blog! :0)
    We (Taxi Studio) actually designed Willie's new website as well, along with all his branding. Link implemented the site for us.
    Is it possible to ask for your email address? It would be great to contact you directly and see what we can do in return for such a great blog!
    Best regards.

  8. It's very nice indeed but too small.

  9. Really Anon ? It's only 20g smaller than one of the market leaders. Do you eat it all in one go then ?

    Admittedly when you first see the packaging it looks about half the size of the others on the shelf, but isn't that the point of the packaging - to make you look more closely and make the product stand out from the others ?

    When you look at it, having the two individually wrapped bars is quite handy (though I have to admit now I've opened a few of them, the hand -wrapping is very haphazard and I'm not sure would pass stringent quality control) - I haven't been able to eat the whole thing yet and anyway I'm not sure that's the idea of dark chocolate. Isn't it's unique quality in the fact that you don't need to eat as much as you might, say, confectionery ?

    Perhaps Willie might consider offering the two distinct flavours as a mulit pack at some stage - but then some of the other competitors have done that and I personally would prefer Willie, along with his branding experts, to come up with something totally "Willie" i.e. never been done before.

  10. Hi Terry,

    I sent you an email after you posted on my blog - have you received it ?

  11. Hi,
    Having just tried Willie's Venezuelan 72 I find your review odd...
    I've been dying to try this since the Channel 4 program and, after finding that my local Waitrose had stock, I popped in a bought a couple of bars.
    I too was impressed with the packaging, the hand-wrapped gold foil around the dark slabs inside. I almost felt guilty for opening the first one but I did, and broke off a smallish triangle from one corner and placed it in my mouth.
    I waited as the chocolate melted slightly on my tongue and then...
    ...I spat it out. This has to be the most offensive, bitter, harsh chocolate I have ever tasted. While I agree that the smells are wonderfully inviting, the taste is simply disgusting. It is dry, very very dry and oh so bitter. The taste stayed in my mouth for around 1/4 hour until it subdued. The batch I had was 1-0001 with a BB date of 08/2010.

    I would like to try the other varieties in case this is simply not for my taste, but if they are in anyway as harsh as this, I will quite happily go without.

  12. Hi Anon,

    Well, it's a shame but for sure the chocolate is not for everyone - as demonstrated on the programmes.

    That doesn't make my review "odd" though !

    The Peruvian 70 is more fruity, but it's still chocolate so might not be to your taste.

    I'll let Willie comment on whether or not his chocolate is "bitter".

  13. hi
    i bought the peruvian 70 chocolate after WEEKS of trying to find it. Never had dark chocolate before. Slightly bitter but GOOD. Expensive for tiny amount of chocolate!!

  14. Hi there,
    I have had all the great bars of chocolate from Valhrona, Amedei, Michel Cluizel etc. While perhaps not as elegant as Amedei's Porcelana, the Venezuelan 72 beats them all. The intensity of the flavour is unbelievable and lasts for a good 45 minutes after finishing a bar. I shan't be buying anything else for a very long time. Not yet tried the Peruvian 70. Very very good value at £2.99.

  15. I just ordered some from Willies website :) i watched the program last year and was so impressed with his ethos... its only now tha hype has died away a little that i can actually get my hands on some!

    I am eagerly awaiting my delivery... I can already see my dog salivating at the thought of his mummy having chocolate... and the thought he might get some too... bad news dog. Its mine.

  16. Have now eaten chocolate. Oh My Gods. Its amazing! I too think the Venezualan beats the pants of anything i have ever tasted. the peruvian has a slightly smokier flavor which is nice but i do prefer the 72. I will be ordering more as son as teh postals strike is over an my bank balance tells me i can! Guess what my chocolate loving friends are getting for xmas!?


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