more dark chocolate....gonna need a nap after this
I'm going populist this time around and nibbling on some dark bars from some mainstream suppliers of chocolate. Don't turn your nose up just yet. Part of it comes from my own personal budgetary concerns where if you are gonna add something to your daily diet, it needs to be affordable. One doesn't always have to go with the local, organic, hand crafted, etc. chocolate every time they get a bar. At least I don't.
Valrhona, not only are they chocolate makers, they also supply cocoa nibs and beens to many boutique chocolate makers, including quite a few in the city. They are a French outfit who've been at this for some, so they must know what they are doing, right? In the instance of this 85% bar, they do. It's a thick, hearty bar with only mild bitter and fruity notes. It was almost as good as the Chocolove bar. Definitely one of the best bars of the batch. For those into dark bars, it's a good choice for a few squares a day. Also is tasty with PB, though not necessarily needed. 6gms fiber 5gms protein At $2.99 a bar, a decent price makes it more enticing.
Ghirardelli is a San Francisco institution, at least for tourists these days. While they are owned by a large corporation, they do still make chocolate in the Bay Area. And they are also trying their hand at the dark chocolate game. This 86% bar has light fruit notes and not much bitterness. It also comes across with an almost milky texture. Part of this comes from the addition of milk fat and soy lecithin which does make for a creamy like feel. It would work as a good introduction to dark chocolate bar for those who aren't the biggest fans. It is a thin bar with a shiny look, that's to make it more appealing to folks who may not be dark fans. It's a solid bar worth a whirl and tastes pretty good with PB. 5gms fiber 3gms protein are the smallest of all the bars but $3.69 a bar is a decent price. Plus it is widely available, something these others may not be.
Oh, Trader Joe's, the funky grocery chain that also offers their own versions of pretty much everything. Into this they've now added an 85% bar. It's really 2 thin bars in one box. Their is a distinct bitter bite on first taste then fruitiness kicks in, in a really big way. What kind of fruit? Came across kind of raisin, cherry like or was it grape? Either way, it was way too much for my taste buds. Just wasn't a fan of this. The texture is smooth, which is nice, but the fruity, ugh, overwhelming. Forget PB, doesn't work. Like I said before, there's a reason you don't PB covered fruit usually. 5gms fiber 4gms protein At $1.99 a bar it is a bargain, so if you are into fruity, this one's for you.
Lindt, another conglomerate of chocolate who've spread their Swiss-ness around the world. This is another brand you can find EVERYWHERE. It doesn't have too bitter a taste, yet there are no fruity undertones, in fact, there aren't really any undertones. Taste wise, it was the dullest of all the bars. At least the 100% ones evoked some flavor, severe, but they were there. This is the bland dark bar for those who don't like dark chocolate at all. It would be a good intro to dark, but that's about all I can say about it. Blah is what I got when I ate this. PB helps, but really as just a vehicle to hold the PB as opposed to enhancing the lack of flavor. 6gms fiber 5gms protein $3.29 a bar. At least it's readily available! (they have a 90% bar, see below why I skipped it)
Oooh, Signature Series! For those who don't know, this is Safeway's house brand. Like Trader Joe's, they make their own brand for most all things. I hadn't seen the chocolate bars before, it's either new or they test ran it elsewhere before rolling it out. When I saw it I figured, why not. Overall, I didn't hate it. The bitterness is kept to a minimum and there is not fruity after taste or notes, which I'm fine with. Addition of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter help even things out and it's a decent tasting bar. Not exciting, but good enough to satiate ones taste for something dark. I'll add to the list of good starter bars for those looking to dark up their chocolate game. 6gms fiber 4gms protein and $2.50 a bar does make it worth a whirl.
One thing to be on the look out for is on labels is when it says chocolate has been "dutched". This is a process where the cocoa powder is treated with alkali to help remove bitterness. Problem is, it also removes some of the flavinols and antioxidants that make dark chocolate beneficial. This is why I skipped Lindt's 90% bar, the chocolate in it has been put through this process which makes less beneficial than if I'd eaten the 85% bar. You'd think with folks clamoring to add extra dark chocolate to their diet routines they'd get away from doing this, but nope. It's almost kind of misleading for people if they don't know about the process. At least they put the information on the label by the ingredients list so you'll know. That's why it is important to read labels, if you see the word dutch or alkali, best to skip those bars for something else.
At this point, I've had more than enough chocolate to last me for awhile, but at least it won't make me drunk or affect my sinuses like red wine would. For me it's Chocolove, Valrhona, Ghirardelli then all the rest. But chocolate is a lot like wine in the sense that everyone's palate is unique and will take to or reject flavors different from others. It's why it is best to taste around and find a dark bar you like enough to have a square or two a day of. Who knows, you may really enjoy a 100% bar, if so great! In this instance, the darker the chocolate the better, so why not go as dark as you can stand. I'll stick to the upper 80's for now and keep the peanut butter close at hand too.