Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 23 April 2010

Will Blog For Chocolate


I imagine most people if offered the chance to try some luxury chocolate for free in return for an honest appraisal on their blog, they'll jump at the chance. So who am I to disappoint the good folk at Fuel My Blog and the suppliers Chocolate and Love?

And lo, a thick padded bag duly arrived containing the pictured chocolate. Luckily I'm a dark chocolate lover, because that's what I received. 2 plain chocolate bars of 71% (Filthy Rich) and 55% (Nirvanabar) cocoa solids respectively, a 65% bar flavoured with orange oil (Orange Mantra), another under the Conscious label containing lots of nuts (my favourite combination), plus a packet of Pacari organic chocolate covered guava which on closer inspection turned out to look like a luxury version of the Paynes Poppets of my childhood.

Chocolate & Love specialise in the luxury, ethical end of the chocolate market, hence the high cocoa solid percentages of each bar and the organic and/or Fairtrade sourcing of ingredients wherever possible. So how best to conduct the taste test? I decided to carry out a thorough survey first, at my local supermarket. I was surprised to find how many brands of chocolate are positioned at this end of the market. So I then tried to be like the magazines and conduct a taste comparison of the bars closest in nature to the ones I'd received. Thus I came home with a further 4 bars to test: 3 of 70% cocoa content (Green & Blacks, Seeds of Change and supermarket Fairtrade own brand) plus a Green & Blacks equivalent of the orange flavoured bar. Well someone has to do it, so why not me?

The plain chocolate bars

This kind of chocolate is totally different to the usual kind of fayre. There's a richness of aroma, a clean snap when a piece is broken off, plus a slowness of melting when placed in the mouth with a long, lingering after taste. All the bars exhibited these characteristics as they should. The 70-71% bars were much more bitter owing to their very high cocoa content, the supermarket brand markedly so such that it was quite unpleasant. The rest were about the same as each other, but I thought the Seeds of Change bar had the slight edge over the other two.

The revelation was the 55% cocoa solids Nirvanabar. For me this had just the right balance between cocoa content and sweetness. It's a shame I didn't find any others of this cocoa content level for a comparison tasting.

The orange flavoured bars

The chocolate exhibited similar characteristics to the plain chocolate bars but were totally different in taste. The Green & Black's bar tasted overwhelmingly of orange peel, whereas the Chocolate & Love bar hardly tasted of anything, despite having a distictly orange tang in its aroma. Neither bar particularly appealed to me and won't woo me away from a slice of dark chocolate Terry's Chocolate Orange

The rest

No comparisons here, just straight tasting. I was looking forward to tasting The Nutty One and oh, what a disappointment. No real chocolate or nutty taste, just blandness despite the 25% nut content. Give me Thornton's chocolate covered brazils any day.

So there was just the Pacari chocolate covered guava left and here at last was something worth having! The packet contains just 57g and purports to be 6 servings. This does give you quite a few individual 'pearls' for your portion, thus allowing for slow eating. Each one has a rich chocolate taste, which gives way to an almost red-wine like flavour as the guava fruit comes through. A real treat.

Conclusions

The 71% plain chocolate bar wasn't the best in its class and is quite a lot more expensive than its peers (£2.90 per 100 grammes vs £1.09 to £1.98 for the rest). As this richness of chocolate isn't really to my taste, I can't really recommend any of the bars in this category. The same applies to both the orange flavoured bars.

I liked the 55% Chocolate & Love bar, but can't say whether or not I'd recommend it over any other chocolate of similar cocoa content and ethical stance. If the results of the 70% taste test were duplicated in this category (and there are others of 55% content around, it's just that I didn't find them on the day), I suspect I'd be recommending a cheaper bar than the Chocolate & Love one.

The Nutty One is so unpleasant I've yet to finish the bar and is therefore one to avoid.

The organic chocolate covered guava was great and definitely the chocolate I'd love to have again. It would sadly only be an occasional treat though because at £2.95 per packet (+ p&p) it's a very dear way of achieving my chocolate fix, even though I could make the contents last for a very long time.

My thanks to Fuel My Blog and Chocolate & Love for the opportunity of trying lots of one of my favourite foods :)

15 comments:

  1. VP, You were clearly born to be a chocolate reviewer. In fact, your review had just the right flavour, with a smooth and pleasant aftertaste. May this be the first of many. After all, someone has to do it...

    And on that subject, if any chocolatiers on the Canadian side of the Atlantic have chocolate they need reviewing, my honest tastebuds are at their service.

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  2. I love what Helen said! I am with you on the percentage of cocoa, with the 60% my favorite when it can be found. Might we deduce that there will be chocolate at Malvern? Thanks for an honest appraisal. :-)
    Frances

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  3. You lucky girl! There is nothing like it when it has, as Helen said, with the right mixture of intense cocoa taste and smooth texture....and no bad after taste! I've had some very bad chocolate. No chocolate is better then bad chocolate!

    Gail

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  4. It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it!

    I'm rather partial to a spot of Kul Kul with cocoa nibs from Lidl myself.

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  5. 71%, bitter?! Noooo, much too sweet for me! I need at least 85% cocoa :)

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  6. We have guavas growing here. Smell delicious, taste good. But I am really struggling to imagine them dipped in chocolate. Have you eaten fresh guavas? Can you compare that? I had high hopes of your nutty choc, but that's OUT. (that nice young man you forgot to invite has been at your Word verification - coven?!)

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  7. Tough job, VP. If you need someone to share the pain with, just let me know. In fact perhaps I should clear up the nutty one for you - it can't be that bad surely!

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  8. I love the bittersweet taste of dark chocolate. The best I've ever had was a 60% chocolate flavoured with hot pepper. The brand name escapes me at the moment, but it was available at our local supermarket for a reasonable price. Your review was great!

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  9. I do love your devotion to duty in buying more chocolate in order to make it a comprehensive test!! Ha ha

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  10. Some very thorough analytical research had gone on there VP on all in the name of science. I applaud your dedication to the cause. Don't know whether I will be tempted - an 85% cocoa content girl myself.
    PS Word verifications has made me smile - it's 'smars' :)

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  11. I admire your thoroughness and dedication, VP--what a chore this must have been:) I am upset because Hershey has stopped making my favorite chocolate--a Nugget called "Truffles" with a meltaway filling covered in dark chocolate. The only chocolate I can find that is somewhat similar is 3X as expensive.

    I wish some of the chocolate makers across the pond would consider a similar test--I'd willingly volunteer for free!

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  12. Mmmm I love the idea of grown up Poppets, how very clever. Great post, my current favourtie choclates are Booja Booja from Norfolk, organic and dairy free truffles.

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  13. I prefer dark chocolate but I'm quite happy to eat plain chocolate digestives or the occasional Dark Kit Kat!
    Flighty xx

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  14. Poppets...
    I had completely forgotten their existence and now I find out that there is a choc-chip cookie poppet as well. Where do they sell these things? I am off to hunt them down - even though I will undoubtedly be disappointed (although not as much as when they started coming over all healthy with Jelly Babies and cut back on the artificial colours and sweeteners).

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  15. I'm so glad you all appreciate what a tough task I had ;)

    Frances - looks like I need to add chocolate to our shopping list as well as biscuits!

    EE - yes, I have eaten fresh guava and loved it. I would have fresh in preference to the chocolate covered sort, but the latter is more available here!

    Lu - I had another chunk on Sunday just for you. Yep, it is that bad :(

    James - I'm assuming that when you've tracked them down we'll all have a sample to try out for the Biscuit Blog? ;)

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