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Taste Test Thursday: Dark Chocolate

Love is in the air.

Dark chocolate love.

There’s nothing worse about being stuck at home on a snow day, when you know there are seven different chocolate bars waiting for you at the office. And the kicker? Our web designer, Ricky Ferrer, is there, right now, munching away on the leftovers. I found this out over gchat. Thanks, man. Thanks, a lot.

Well, since it’s February, I thought I’d indulge some sweet tooths and melt people’s hearts with a dark chocolate taste test. I picked seven different brands as close to bean-to-bar as I could find, although it’s tricky knowing whether or not Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s products really count. (Sander Wolf of DallasChocolate.org says they’re really just wild cards, since we don’t know for sure whether the companies purchased the beans themselves.) Even though I’ve mixed popular ones with lesser-known chocolate companies, I’ve probably missed a few of your favorites. Leave a comment and tell me which ones you love the most.

1_taste_test_name

A. Patric’s signature 70% dark chocolate blend – Columbia, MO (Central Market)

B. Whole Foods’ organic 72% dark chocolate – Austin, Texas (Whole Foods)

C. Alter Eco’s 85% dark blackout organic chocolate - San Francisco, CA (Green Grocer)

D. Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate (Pound Plus)

E. Green and Black’s 70% dark chocolate – Northfield, IL (Whole Foods)

F. Valrhona’s 70% Guanaja dark chocolate – France (Central Market)

G. Madecasse’s Madagascar’s 75% dark chocolate – Madagascar (Whole Foods)

A
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Ingredients: cacao, organic cane sugar, cocoa butter.

  • “I could eat this one after a really bad or a really good day. It’s good.”
  • “A little waxy. Too timid. Like a bad loner.”
  • “Smooth and creamy, but has almost a smoky undertone.”
  • “Dry, slightly citrous.”

 

B
3_tasting_notes

Ingredients: organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter

  • “Enjoyed the flavor and texture. Maybe a bit nutty?”
  • “Immediate weird taste, but gets better.”
  • “Coffee flavor.”
  • “Nice dark color.”
  • “Kind of buttery.”

 

C
3_tasting_notes

Ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar, vanilla beans

  • “Feet-y aftertaste.”
  • “Slightly sour, real dry palate.”
  • “Has an odd green veggie quality. Is that kale I taste? Surely not.”
  • “Acidic.”
  • “Too bitter. Nutty flavor.”

 

D
3_tasting_notes

Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, cocoa solids

  • “Church-sale quality. Basic.”
  • “Very creamy.”
  • “Sweet, soft on back of mouth.”
  • “Sweeter tasting. Crumbly texture.”
  • “Nice and black like the soul. Good mouthfeel and just sweet enough.”

 

E
3_tasting_notes
Ingredients: Cocoa, cane sugar, vanilla.

  • “Waxy.”
  • “South, smooth notes of raisin”
  • “Acidic and bitter. Oak-y.”
  • “This tastes inky. And a little sour. That’s not a bad thing.”
  • “Creamy, thick bar. Nice flavor.”

 

F
3_tasting_notes
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier.

  • “Smooth and inoffensive.”
  • “Smooth.”
  • “Bar is a little thin. Creamy. Feels rich, though.”
  • “Easy to eat.”
  • “A crowd please, but not very interesting.”

 

g13_tasting_notes
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla.

  • “Light. Almost fruity flavor.”
  • “Bitter aftertaste that reminds me of egg salad.”
  • “Chalky, sour, and a bad aftertaste. Reminds me of my ex-boyfriend.”
  • “Fruity notes.”
  • “a little dry, strong cocoa flavor.”

 

4_tally_up

4 votes for (D) Trader Joe’s
2 votes vote for (B) Whole Foods
1 vote for (A) Patric
1 vote for (F) Valrhona
1 vote for (G) Madacasse

5_conclusion

 

The winner: Trader Joe’s

This one was easily the sweetest bar on the roster, and after I told my chocolate guru, Sander Wolf, that Trader Joe’s chocolate won, he was in disbelief. “Patric’s signature 70% dark chocolate blend is an award-winning bar!” he exclaimed. It’s true. It’s an awesome bar. ScottDFW once sent me a gift of seven Patric chocolates and made my life a living heaven. Holy smokes. All of Alan McClure’s creations are characterized by their smooth texture. They’re soft to bite. His 70% blend is a milky bar with hints of coffee notes. I love it. Trader Joe’s, on the other hand, is the total opposite. It’s chunky, really thick, brick-like, and rough around the edges. It looks like a bully compared to McClure’s artisan bar. And it comes in a pound. Like Godzilla.

The loser: Alter Eco’s

This was to be expected. I looked for seven bars with a similar percentage of dark chocolate, but Alter Eco’s was easily the most bitter at 85%. It basically tasted like sawdust. Also, most people tried it after having Whole Foods’ fruity-forward chocolate bar, which made the Alter Eco one taste even worse. I’m surprised Valrhona didn’t get more votes. It’s used as a base in a lot of Dude, Sweet Chocolate’s creations, like the cocoa vin and soft chocolate toffee. Madacasse’s Madagascar bar was too chalky for most people, but I’d heard a lot of good things about this one before.

(P.S. DallasChocolate.org and Sublime Chocolate are doing a bean-to-bar and wine pairing class at Veritas on February, 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $25. No reservations required.)