5.26.2010

The Exotic Chocolate Review

Okay, fine, most of these chocolates aren't that exotic and stuff, so this should really be called 'Weird Flavor Combinations on a Budget.' Which, you know...doesn't sound nearly as awesome.

In the meantime, though, I look forward to the day when I can finally afford criollo chocolates. (Forastero and trinitario just don't stack up in comparison...on the other hand, they're considerably more affordable.)

You should know that I prefer the very dark, almost bitter flavors to the weak shit that is most American candy (exceptions: Kit Kat, Cadbury Creme Eggs + Fruit and Nut bars, Reese's cups, M&Ms...but all only occasionally, because it's abominable to add such extras to high quality chocolate).

Without further ado--

Dagoba
Lavender & Blueberries 59% - Too. Sweet. Aargh! I don't see why there's a need to enhance the natural flavor of blueberries with, well, anything. Still not bad, though--just not awesome. Three out of five bites.

Dagoba Lemon Ginger 68% - Not bad. I love lemons and gingers, the little chunks appealed to me. In general I find chocolate in America to be too sweet, there wasn't enough opportunity to enjoy its actual flavor. 3/5.

Endangered Species Brand
Endangered Species Black Panther, Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%) - Ohyes. It has an actual aroma when you open it, even the way the pieces snap is pretty much sexy...so much flavor. So, so much. (I'm sorry, I can still taste it.) Whereas 80% or more from a company like Lindt gets overpowering, this gets better and better. So. Smooth. 5/5.

Endangered Species Rainforest, Dark Chocolate (72%) - I love the rainforest! Don't you? Either way, this chocolate is pretty damn amazing. The mintiness of the mint could be stronger, but it's not too sweet and the bars are consistent with this brand in being nice and hard (heh, heh). 4/5.

Endangered Species Spider Monkey, Organic Dark Chocolate (70%) with Goji Berry, Pecans & Maca - Why do I always look up the weird ingredients after I eat the damn chocolate? Awkward. Anyway, great blend of dark smoky/smooth chocolate with goji berries. Didn't get much pecan, I think it might be blended in instead of actually being nutty, though. Overall, mouthgasm. 5/5.

Endangered Species Tiger, Dark Chocolate (72%) - If this were a dude, I would be humping it right now. Seriously. This one is fucking amazing. The crunchy espresso goes so well with the density of the chocolate, plus coffee--especially something not oversweet (like mocha)--always does a great job of bringing out some of the subtler notes of chocolate. 5/5.

Endangered Species Toucan, Organic Dark Chocolate (70%) with Goldenberry & Lúcuma - I just looked up lúcuma on Wikipedia...it's not at all what I was expecting. Good to know that my taste is completely unbiased, though, right?
Anyway, this is basically what I want from Endangered Species brand: an excellent dark chocolate with added notes of fruit. Again, not their best, but if it were made by, say, Hershey's it would be a 6 or a 7. I think a goldenberry might be what I've been calling golden raisins for years now...because that's exactly what the fruit part tasted like. Unexpected, but not in a bad way. The lúcuma mostly just contributed a bit of crunchiness--also nice. 3/5.

Endangered Species Wolf, Dark Chocolate (72%) - Same chocolate qualities as above. The cranberries and almonds were alright, though nothing special. 3/5.

Equal Exchange
Okay you know what I do not have the time to list all four varieties by them I have had, however I can say uniformly that I am very much underwhelmed in comparison to other organic dark chocolates. Organic Mint Chocolate with a Delicate Crunch (67%) - yeah, so when they said 'delicate crunch' they were not exaggerating in any way, or for that matter referring to the innate texture of the chocolate. There's actually a hint of peppermint in this one to give it that extra crunch. Does it work? I guess, but if you're like me and despise the sweetness of peppermint (as compared to real mint), it knocks it down a couple of notches. (To be fair, my mother wanted this one.) 3/5.

Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71%) - not as satisfyingly snappy as others I've had; the flavor was pleasantly dark enough, but have you seen my listing of chocolate here? Nothing to make this one stand out. 3/5.

Ghirardelli
Ghirardelli's 'Midnight Reverie' (86%) - mleh. I thought I'd had this linked on my front page but I guess I don't...long story short, Ghirardelli and Lindt both use plantation chocolate (Endangered Species Brand, Green & Black's, and Dagoba are some of the mass producers that don't; I no longer buy Lindt or Ghirardelli though I still help the family finish ). Anyway, I think this has been lowering the quality of their chocolate. Whereas I would happily devour a super-dark version of Green & Black's (or better yet a TerraSource truffle), this bar was totally...eh. It's bitter, and then it's basically nothing: low quality cacao beans do not a worthy extra-dark make. 2/5.

Ghirardelli's 'Twilight Delight' (70%ish) - better, the added stuff and smoother texture increase tolerability. Still, though, criollo beans forever. 3/5.

Green & Black's
Green & Black's Maya Gold - My favorite thing about this brand is their total lack of oversweetness...so this was a disappointment. :( The spices are interesting, but the use of orange essence (or whatever) is not nearly as effective as it is with Lindt's thin orange bars. I think part of the problem might also be how melty this stuff is--softness really dulls the taste. If you like cardamom, go for it. 3/5.

Green & Black's Organic Chocolate Bar, 70% - SO. GOOD. They let the chocolate do the talking. It is awesome, and the beans they use are non-plantation so higher quality with more of the darker, richer flavor usually only brought out by coffee. 4/5.

Lindt
Lindt Excellence Chili Dark Chocolate Bar - GROSS. Ew. Seriously, whoever had this idea needs to be taken round back and shot. The dark chocolate was oversweet and the chili had a bite that did no favors to the taste of the former. For some reason, my mother liked this one. 1/5.

Lindt Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar - Again, disgusting. Salt crystals plus chocolate is just...weird. My sister liked both this and the Choxie variety, but there's something wrong with her. 1/5.

Pacari
Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate, 72% cacao Los Rios single region fine chocolate - the ingredients of this chocolate are as follows (and are all organic): cacao beans, evaporated cane juice, sunflower lecithin. So in addition to their working directly with bean growers and using a local variety of bean, you get this lovely minimalism of ingredients. Need I say this was an extremely flavorful dark chocolate with great texture and all kinds of notes (I'm a snob, but not enough of a snob to recognize which notes)? 5/5.

TerraSource [local]
TerraSource Aronia - Okay, look. These chocolates are small business and very local. I bought the chocolates straight from the maker. So...can you guess how good these are? With every last bit of dark chocolate perfectly matched to the notes of berry flavoring in this one? 6/5. (It has an aftertaste of pure awesome.) Plus, it's earth-friendly and vegan!

TerraSource Moroccan Mint Tea - unfortunately, this one got a little squished and melty when I was bringing it back; I had to pry it off the paper. Perhaps this killed the flavor a little; the mint notes were quite pleasant (and are still floating around), and there was a hint of this breath freshener whose name I don't know (in Hindi, it sounds like 'soap' but with a nasally accent)--maybe it was just the tea? I don't know. The mingling of flavors wasn't as impressive as usual. This is still awesome chocolate--I still got my moment of serious bliss--but not my first choice from Josie. 4/5.

TerraSource Scarlet Tea - see above; plus, it turns out tea's vague sweetness and weird aftertaste are perfectly suited to being blended into a dark chocolate concoction that melts over your mouth and, best of all, ends with a tiny bit of crunchiness so you don't forget about it. 6/5.

Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate Spicy Chile, 70% - I guess people in Seattle spell 'chili' weird. (Special thanks to you-know-who for this one, now go read a fun book!) Anyway, fantastic opening notes...they are so on top of balancing the richness of the chocolate with a hint of sweetness and, finally, the kick from the chili. It's still not my favorite thing ever, but it is so much better than Lindt's. Plus, fair trade! 4/5.

Vosges
Vosges Black Pearl, 55% - Okay, so I finally caved in to the ultra pretentious section of Whole Foods and got one of their really overpriced bars, in the hopes that the chocolate would be like the best thing ever. I have to say that, in the future, I'm sticking to Green & Black. This bar includes black sesame seeds, ginger, and wasabi--great things in noodles, and probably not all that bad in chocolate (I know two of these things do great things to ice cream). However...the quality of the chocolate itself was, for what I was expecting, abysmal. Not that 55% is ever very impressive, but still--really oversweet. Uck. Does anyone want the rest of this? Swap you a video game or something.

2 comments:

jsams42 said...

I didn't realize you were as spastic about dark chocolate as I am :D I would commit murder for that black panther chocolate, gahhhh.

Jenn

The Reporter said...

I may even be a bigger spaz :D

You can get it at Whole Foods, and I've seen at least some of the varieties at Walgreens/CVS. Otherwise, murder sounds like a plan.