Archive for the 'senses' Category

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Chocolate

Chocolate is reasonably healthy in small quantities, as long as you get the good stuff without too much sugar or dairy added. I’ve been tasting around for a few months now. I claim zero credentials in chocolate tasting, so what I say here might seem amusing to experts. Scores are purely subjective: how much did I enjoy it?

Quetzalcoatl, E. Guittard

72% cacao mass. Ingredients: Cacao beans, pure cane sugar, soya lecithin, vanilla beans.

More sweet and less bitter than most chocolates of similar cacao content. Even brief contact with the skin melts a little leaving a faint stain that doesn’t wipe off. Very smooth gently roasted flavor. Earthy notes, with a faint aftertaste of apricots or stone fruit. Lightly bitter finish. 9.0/10

Nocturne, E. Guittard

91% cacao. Ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, pure cane sugar, soya lecithin, vanilla beans.

Very firm chocolate. Biting into it, your teeth only go in a bit then the piece snaps off with a loud pop. Mouthfeel like melting butter. Flavor steadily builds in intensity until it’s a focused earthy bitterness on the center of your tongue. Subtle raspberry notes. 8.5/10

Extra Dark, Scharffen Berger

82% cacao. Ingredients: Cacao beans, sugar, whole vanilla beans

Dark, intense, lightly sour flavor. Wine-like notes. As smooth in texture as soy lecithin alternatives. Spicy hints like coriander or szechuan pepper. Lingering finish much like that of a hoppy beer, felt in the back of the throat. 7.5/10

Bittersweet, Scharffen Berger

70% cacao. Ingredients: Cacao beans, cocoa butter, non-gmo soy lecithin, whole vanilla beans.

Good flavor from the moment it touches your tongue. Creamy, texture is like milk chocolate. Buttery mouthfeel. Flavor is intense and bitter, sweet and sour, more approachable than stronger alternatives. Clean chocolate flavor. 8/10

Midnight Reverie, Ghiradelli

86% cacao. Ingredients: Bittersweet chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, milk fat, soy lecithin), vanilla, natural flavor.

Slightly waxy, less intense flavor, though it gradually builds as it melts in your mouth. Trace of acidity, like dried cherries. Coffee-like bitterness. Fairly sweet toward the end, though the finish has hints of licorice with lingering bitterness. 7/10

Twilight Delight, Ghiradelli

72% cacao. Ingredients: Unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, soy lecithin.

Immediate sweetness which fades into a classic dark chocolate flavor. Roasty notes, hints of raisin and dark fruit. Rapid melter. Extra silky texture. When you snap a piece off, tiny flecks tend to land on your skin and immediately melt. Long finish reminds you for many minutes that you ate chocolate. 8/10

NOIR, Côte d’Or (Kraft)

70% cacao. Ingredients: Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavor.

Lesser flavor at first, gradually builds as it melts. Fruity bananna melon notes. Unlike some of the more intense chocolates, this one could be consumed freely, not saved for special occasions like some others. Has a waxy feel, a bit like biting into a crayon. 7/10

Stone Ground Organic Chocolate, 70% dark, Taza

70% cacao. Ingredients: cacao beans (Dominican Republic), cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans.

Slightly gritty texture, feels like little bits of sugar in there (like the bottom of a class of chocolate milk made with powder). Warm, earthy aroma, full balanced sweetness. Earthy, muddy (in a good way) flavor, mouth filling. Long finish that fades into dark fruit notes. 9.5/10

Stone Ground Organic Chocolate, 80% dark, Taza

80% cacao. Ingredients: cacao beans (Dominican Republic), cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans.

Lightly gritty texture, occasional bits of crunchy sugar in there. More intense bitterness, and wine-like notes in aroma and flavor. Hints of sour cherries, against lingering bitterness. Long tapered finish with pleasant aftertaste. Great chocolate experience. 9/10

Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s

65% cacao. Ingredients: Semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate; sugar; cocoa; milk fat; cocoa butter; soy lecithin; natural vanilla flavor), cacao nibs, milk.

Surprisingly dark for a milk chocolate. Lots of little crunchy nibs within. Lots of flavor, mouth filling. Candy sweetness and hints of roasted nut. Kind of like a Mr. Goodbar (except actually good). Occasionally you bite into a (less-roasted?) nib with some vegetal character. Long coffee-like finish. Melts instantly against your finger. 9/10

Premium Extra Dark Chocolate, See’s Candies

56% cacao. Ingredients: Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, milkfat (butter), soy lecithin, vanilla, vanillin (an artificial flavor).

Strong caramel and milk chocolate notes. Tastes sweet against the tongue before even biting into it. More like a candy bar then a piece of real chocolate. I could see how it might be addictive, though. 5/10

Chocolat Noir de Domaine, Palmira, Valrhona (2006)

64% cacao. Ingredients: Cocoa beans from Venezuela, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla.

When a friend of mine heard I was tasting chocolates, he said “you’ve GOT to try this one”. I have no idea whether chocolate gets better with age, but this one said Best Before 11-2007. It has a velvety, slippery feeling to it–hard to pick up with your fingers. Lots of pleasing aromas coming off the block–honey, toast. Biting into it a piece snaps off with a loud pop, and fills your mouth with smoky, earthy flavors. Some notes like a dry red wine. Leaves an aftertaste like brazil nuts. 9/10

Le Noir Extra Amer, Valrhona

85% cacao. Ingredients: cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla beans.

Dark, intense, sharp flavor up front, reminiscent of sour dark fruit. Very meltable, leaving marks on your fingers. Taste fades into a creamy buttery note with lingering bitterness. 9/10

Dark Chocolate, Valor

70% cacao. Ingredients: chocolate processed with alkali, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin.

Has a bitter undertone, like stout beer, but alongside a creaminess like milk chocolate. Caramel and coffee notes. Lingering aftertaste. 8/10

New Moon, Dagoba

74% cacao. Ingredients: Organic dark chocolate (cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter, non-gmo soy lecithin), milk (less than 0.1%).

Fast melting on to fingers. Has a deep penetrating flavor with hints of blueberry & concord grape notes. After a few moments this fades into a classic bitter chocolate taste. Slightly muddy mouthfeel, but somehow not in a bad way. It seems odd, but this does not pair well with water. Taking a sip immediately after leaves a dry minerally aftertaste. 8.5/10.

“Bat” Intense Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs, Endangered Species Chocolate

72% cacao. Ingredients: bittersweet chocolate (chocolate liquor, unbleached water-filtered beet sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), cocoa nibs.

Rich deep chocolate favor with pleasingly crunchy bits. Roasty notes like dark toast and coffee. Nutty. Sweet and sour like tart orange. 9/10