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Chocolate Confidential

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When one of the top pastry chefs in town hands you a chocolate bar and says she's in love, you listen. In fact, I believe Rhonda Ruckman's exact words about the Patric bar she gave to me yesterday were, "As far as Madagascar chocolate goes, this kicks Valrhona's ass."

Coming from this chef, that's a major endorsement. Formerly of Doughmonkey and currently of Square Market, Ruckman is known for her killer chocolate desserts, including chocolate chip cookies, gourmet chocolate candies and a chocolate peanut butter cake that would make Paula Deen throw down her beaters and bow. So what convinced Ruckman, a die-hard Valrhona devotee, to step out on her long-time fave? "The flavors are more pronounced and consistently vibrant," she attests of this new-ish premium brand. "These guys know what they're doing."

Founded in March of 2006 by chocolatier Alan McClure, Patric released its first product, the "micro-batch" 70% Madagascar bar in July of 2007. Crafted from single-estate cacao, it represents the chocolate equivalent of a fine boutique wine. In fact, the package even has tasting notes. The 67% Madagascar followed in 2008, along with shout-outs for Patric from Gourmet magazine, the L.A. Times and the New Yorker.

Bitter and intense, the 67% Madagascar first presents notes of rich black coffee, which slowly fade as the bright and tangy flavor of berries emerge. There may have even been a hint of licorice in the background. Each bite finished strong, with very little sweetness. This is definitely a sophisticated bar for a serious chocolate connoisseur.

Many other products are also available in the Patric line. You can find them here in town at Chocolate Secrets. Stock up and pass 'em off as your own incredible discovery. We won't tell.

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