The Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate revolution -30 years of passion and creativity

The Staff Canteen

The iconic Guanaja dark chocolate is turning 30, celebrating three decades of excellence and expertise for the benefit of dark chocolate fans!

Ranging from the original to the essential, the world's most bitter chocolate first appeared on the scene in 1986.

Since its beginnings in 1922, Valrhona has been on a continuous quest to capture the unique flavor of cocoa beans, investigating each and every creative possibility in an attempt to access the source of 'Grand Chocolat'. Based in Tain l’Hermitage, in the heart of France's Drôme region, the French chocolaterie quickly stood out from the crowd thanks to its unique, artisanal know-how. This expertise was spurred on by a passion for cocoa, leading Valrhona to seek out the world's very best cocoa beans in a mission to reveal the full intensity of its flavor, and to treat the world to the best that chocolate has to offer. A rare, carefully safeguarded manufacturing process has allowed Valrhona to innovate, creating exceptional products and positioning itself as a creator of unique tastes.

Guanaja 70% was born in this creative context in 1986, thanksto the perseverance and passion of the brains behind the brand. The craft of chocolate-makingextends beyond whipping up sweet treats -It involves plantation growers and sourcing teams, who nurture crops in faraway lands. Respect for the beans and the product resulted in an unprecedented and subversive chocolate first created 30 years ago, surprising palates with its powerful punch of flavor and delightful bitterness.

This revolutionary chocolate was named Guanaja, in a nod to the first cocoa beans given to Christopher Columbus when he washed up on the Caribbean island of Guanaja on July 30, 1502.

Guanaja 70%: Chocolate with passion and audacity

The first 70% cocoa blend, Guanaja is the fruit of an alliance of exceptional crussourced from a selection of cacao trees of various different origins, each featuring well-defined notes. A selection of unique beans -from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Africa -work in unison to form a flawless range of harmonies. Its blend is a concentration of Valrhona's expertise and high standards: From fermentation to conching, each stepof this long-term process isan exercise in precision.

The world's most bitter chocolateis renowned for its low sugar content. Guanaja developed an astonishing bitterness, simultaneously rounded and light in acidity, underpinned by notes of dried fruits and roasted coffee.

For the very first time, professionals were working with a less sweet chocolate that was richer in cocoa butter. Through an unprecedented blend born of an attempt to get back to basics and achieve excellence, Valrhona inspired a number of professionals to devote their careers entirely to chocolate.

Guanaja 70% ushered in the golden age of tasting and couverture chocolate, marking a new era for chocolatiers and pastry chefs alike. Thanks to Guanaja's more concentrated cocoa content, traditional recipes needed to be reviewed and measurements adjusted depending on the chocolate used. Frédéric Bau understood this need for change and decided to found l’École Valrhona, along with the Essentials (the 'Chocolate Bible').

A vintage chocolate based on an original, unique and unparalleled recipe

63% cocoa nibs + 29% white sugar + 7.5% cocoa butter + 0.02% natural vanilla extract + 0.5% soya lecithin = A chocolate delight to be enjoyed as-is or whipped up into a dessert!

Hooked from the first taste...

  • Frédéric BauCreative Director at Valrhona:

"Guanaja" shook up conceptions of flavor and technique in the industry. I don't think anyone at Valrhona could have guessed what an impact the arrival of a chocolate like this would have in terms of technique: We weren't weak pastry chefs by any stretch of the imagination, but we had to up our game and learn to work with it! Guanaja prompted us to create the Essentials tool, designed as a 'Lego-style game' to save pastry chefs from having to figure out how to rebalance recipes. Thanks to this tool, Valrhona has opened up the field of possibilities." »

Pastry chefs and top chefs were immediately won over by its incredible aromatic potential:

  • The Troisgrosbrothers praised its "shiny color, its aromatic power, its delicate finish, its roundness and persistence", reminiscent of the finest of wines. 
  • Pierre Herméchose the chocolate for the legendary Marigny at Fauchon. 

Thanks to its incredible success among chefs and artisans, Guanaja 70% has become Valrhona's most iconic dark chocolate. It now features among the Top 5 best-sellers in France and abroad, a favorite with over 10,000 clients. 

Valrhona and Guanaja in 7 key dates 

1922: The Chocolaterie du Vivarais is founded by Albéric Guironnet

1947: The Valrhona brand is founded, the name of which is a contraction of 'Vallée du Rhône'

1986: The world's most bitter chocolate is born: Guanaja, 70% cocoa

1987: Guanaja Milk is created

1989: L'École Valrhona is created, co-founded by Frédéric Bau and Paul-Bernard Bret

2008: The first P125 Cœur de Guanaja 80% chocolate concentrate is created using innovative technology that heightens the chocolate intensity inrecipes where cocoa butter is limited

2016: Guanaja celebrates its 30th birthday

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th August 2016

The Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate revolution -30 years of passion and creativity