A New Chocolate Love

feves_noires.jpgI have fallen in love with a new Valrhona chocolate called Illanka. I first tasted it when it was introduced at the recent Valrhona cocktail party in New York City and was nothing short of amazed. I've been a long time fan of the Valrhona Le Noir Gastronomie, aka extra bitter 61% but I found the Illanka much more exciting. Not only is it extraordinarily creamy and well-balanced, it is intensely chocolaty with an enticingly fruity finish that makes me want to reach for more. Illanka chocolate comes from Peru and is made from Gran Blanco beans--very rare white cocoa beans found in the Piura region. Valrhona has given it the name Illanka which comes from Illa, the light and Anka, Condor in Quechua, the speaking language in Peru. Illanka is delicious eaten just as it is, without further enhancement, but also makes a fabulous ganache simply with the addition of heavy cream. For a 61% chocolate such as Le Noir Gastronomie I use 9 ounces/255 grams cream (about 1 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons/259 ml) to 8 ounces/227 grams chocolate. For the Illanka 63% I use 10 ounces/283 grams cream (about 1-1/4 cups/296 ml) to 8 oz/227 grams chocolate. Illanka can be bought on line. Valrhona will donate $1.00 USD to the Clear Water charity project for every 500 gram/17.5 ounce bag of Illanka chocolate purchased. Illanka has an interesting history. If you would like to learn more about it and the impact Valrhona's creation of The Clean Water Project is making on the surrounding cocoa producing communities follow this link.