Pralus is one of the rare, true chocolate-makers creating chocolate direct from the bean (only a handful exist in France!) whose belief in the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl inspired the creation of his own chocolate.
The Pralus Quality
In order to concoct the quintessential aromas and original bouquets, each “marriage” of chocolate is blended and refined in his Laboratoire Chocolat, set up in 1991.
Hailing from the finest Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero, François Pralus imports no less than eighteen different varieties of bean - from Central America, South America, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe and Indonesia - for his blends. Some of which contain eighty percent cocoa. The remarkable creativity and the high standards of the Maison Pralus have been awarded with the highest accolades: The Grand Prix d’Excellence International du Chocolat and the Grand Prix du Festival International du Chocolat.
Pralus chocolate origins
Since 2000, François Pralus now has his own cacao plantation in Madagascar on the island of Nosy Be, also known as the “isle of perfumes”. From Sao Tome by the way of Brazil and Venezuela, Monsieur Pralus has personally selected cacao for the plantation from the finest origins in the world. The beans are grown, harvested and fermented with care and then roasted and transformed into a delightful chocolate in his Roanne facility.
Everyone can fall under a magic spell; François Pralus, for his part, fell under that of chocolate and praline at a very early age. Inherited from his father Auguste, his taste for the black gold and other sugared sweets soon transformed itself into a passion which would never leave him. Francois Pralus learnt a great deal from his father but was also a trainee of the great French chocolate maker Bernachon for two years in 1977 and it was in this period of his life he realised chocolate was his passion and moreover making chocolate from the cocoa bean directly. This passion ultimately led him to cultivate the reputed Criollo under the Malagasy sky and to produce his very own chocolate. Francois describes the criollo; "Criollo is what one might call “the” variety of chocolate, rather like Arabica and Robusta are to coffee."
Always inventive, François Pralus concentrates his many talents in his patisserie creations and, equally, his chocolate “paintings”.
1975-1976 Apprenticeship under Auguste Pralus, Roanne
1977-1979 Work placement at Chocolaterie Bernachon, Lyon
1979-1980 Lenotre school, Paris
1980-1982 Work placement with Auguste Pralus, Roanne
1982-1983 Restaurant manager at Claude Trisgros, Brasil
1984 - 1988 Pastry chef
1988-1994 Pastry chef then manager of pastry shop in Roanne
1994 - Chief executive of Patisserie-Chocolaterie Pralus SAS
2000 Owner of Cocoa plantation in Madagascar
2003 Launch of single origin chocolates
Pralus traditional reputation
A dynamic twenty-five strong team works together developing chocolates in the heart of the Pralus site. Since 1988, François Pralus has been observing the traditions laid down by his father in 1948. In accordance with the key principles established by the founders of Pralus: Discover and promote new products and flavours while maintaining the highest possible quality and respecting artisan traditions.
Pralus are one of the few chocolate houses creating chocolate direct from the bean (cacaofevier). Pralus own their own cocoa plantation in Madagascar and so have direct control over the quality of cocoa produced and used in their chocolate, they have also successfully managed to use Forestero cocoa in some of their origin bars with amazing results.
Pralus are certainly creating some of the finest chocolate in the world. Perhaps their current artisan position and limited distribution outside France has helped keep their minds focused on creating chocolate and not perpetuating their brand image across the globe. Pralus is a true discovery in chocolate and we hope Pralus keeps its feet firmly on the ground.
Our own tasting notes on the Pralus origin chocolate bars:
The Venezuela origin bar from Pralus holds two distinct and opposing flavours. A thin, acidulous top edge above prominent smoky, earthy lower notes. Surprisingly robust for a chocolate created exclusively from fine flavour, Trinitario cocoa from Venezuela. A contrasting chocolate experience and perhaps the most complex of the Pralus single origin bars.
A creamy, mild mannered dark chocolate with subtle fruit edges. Non-acidulous. Black forest gateaux sums up this chocolate perfectly. Sweet cherry notes, chocolate butter cream followed by a bitter dark chocolate finish, like that of a well baked edge of chocolate cake. Pralus have successfully used only Forastero cocoa from Ghana to create this chocolate bar. Perhaps the Ghana bar deserves even more praise for this fact alone.
Pralus have exclusively used fine flavour, Criollo cocoa from Indonesia to create this contrasting flavoured chocolate. Noticeable orange peel notes and high acidity to begin with evolving into a pure, liquorice and burnt toffee finish.
This chocolate is made solely from fine flavour, Trinitario cocoa from Colombia. Containing notes of coffee and nuts with a subtle tart edge to balance. A finely roasted espresso with great body. Caramalised flavours prevail to a long lasting finish with a rich aftertaste with little acidity.
The Equateur origin chocolate from Pralus is certainly one for the rich and earthy flavoured chocolate lovers with its deep rich flavour and absence of acid fruit flavours. Notes of pipe tobacco. Lingering, dark chocolate caramel aftertaste.
Using only fine flavour, Trinitario cocoa from Trinidad. Pralus have created an initial lime zest edge to this chocolate, green fruit pastels even. A refreshing sour edge balances wonderfully with a full body. Even on the aftertaste a hint of green fruits, apples, scents the mouth and combines effortlessly with a treacle-like richness. Perfectly balanced and holding a full spectrum of flavours.
This chocolate is quite unique in its flavour profile. Red fruit, tart flavours combined with smokiness. Notes of Lapsang Souchong tea due to the wood smoke backbone of this chocolate prevail until the end. Extremely flavoursome and diverse. Pralus use a blend of fine flavour, Trinitario and Criollo cocoa beans to create this origin chocolate.
This chocolate really does evolve from a grassy, earthy melt to a chocolate bursting with fruits, in particular Raspberry. A reverse order of flavours than is usual in fact. An interesting journey of flavours and one that ends with a perfectly balanced, well rounded chocolate for all tastes. Proof indeed that in the right hands, Pralus, the Forastero cocoa can be used successfully to produce a chocolate as good as this. Very few achieve this quality.
Trinitario cocoa is used exclusively in this particular origin chocolate by Pralus, providing notes of sweet currant and hints of cinnamon. Fruits are dominant throughout this chocolate with very little bitterness or astringency. Perfectly balanced and palatable to all dark chocolate lovers.
Balsamic, treacle and toffee apples all spring to mind with the abundance of caramalised and condensed sweet flavours contained inside this chocolate. Amazingly, Forastero cocoa alone is used to create such a flavoursome chocolate. A great credit to Pralus.
Created solely from Trinitario cocoa. Peppery, spicy notes to begin with then mellowing into a more caramel flavoured chocolate with bitter cocoa notes.
Pralus have used a blend of Criollo and Trinitario cocoa to create this robust, bitter flavoured chocolate. Slight acidity to the edge and perhaps surprising to many that this is an 80% dark chocolate.
The ultimate in cocoa content and for the strict, bitter chocolate lovers. Using only fine flavour, Criollo cocoa.
A diverse and charismatic dark chocolate of spicy, black fruits and woody flavour notes. Created exclusively from fine flavour, Trinitario cocoa from the Dominican Republic. Long on the palate.
A wonderfully fruity and balanced dark chocolate with slight bitterness matched with an acidulous edge. Very long lasting on the mouth and equally as impressive as the Amedei version.
This single origin chocolate bar uses only fine flavour, Criollo cocoa from Madagascar. Pralus have produced a flamboyant character dark chocolate with many fruit and acidulous top notes from raspberry to red wine, continuing through the more caramelised richer flavours to a treacle like finish. A very fine chocolate as one should expect from such a high grade of cocoa used and its reputable origin.
The Pralus, Papouasie dark chocolate bar has very distinct notes of Rhubarb. We would even go as far to describe it as rhubarb crumble with cream, due to the toffee sweetness combined with a wonderfully creamy melt. A truly wonderful dark chocolate from Pralus using only Trinitario cocoa from Papa New Guinea. One not to be missed.
This higher cocoa milk chocolate bar from Pralus has a very condensed flavour, holding a robust caramelised nut and toffee flavour profile. If you can imagine a rich butter fudge but made with substantially less sugar, this gives you a good idea of the overall taste.
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By The Chocolate Traveller
Chocolate Trading Company