Three 100g bars from The Chocolate Cafe arrived in the post the other day and I was most excited. Having ripped open the padded envelope and bubble wrap, the first thing I noticed was the distinctive packaging which, with my penchant for red, really drew my eye. Each bar is wrapped in matt paper the colour of the chocolate it is safeguarding with the chocolate cafe printed in red and the chocolate cafe's logo - a sploosh (my words not theirs) of what I take to be molten chocolate, also in red.
Not having reviewed chocolate before, I wasn't quite sure where to start. So I thought I would do a taste comparison with equivalent bars that I am more familiar with, in this instance from Green & Blacks. This actually worked really well, except it doubled the quantities of chocolate consumed - oh well, not exactly a hardship! I hasten to add, we did not do all the tasting at one sitting.
70% Premium Dark Chocolate - cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
The first thing I noticed was the fragrant spicy smell that arose when I opened the wrapper - most enticing. These first impressions were reinforced when we tried some, it was smooth and creamy with coffee tones coming through first followed by almonds. The G&B 70% bar had a sharper smell and tasted more bitter & acidic leaving an aftertaste reminiscent of tobacco - CT thought it was more like coca cola (this is not good in our book). It was coarse and lacked subtlety, leaving a not particularly pleasant coating inside the mouth and throat. What struck us most about the Chocolate Cafe bar was that unlike most dark chocolate, a couple of squares were not enough - we wanted more, not something either of us say very often about dark chocolate. We really liked it. 9/10
Premium Milk Chocolate (33.6% cocoa) - sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
I was really looking forward to trying this as milk chocolate is my number one favourite when it comes to eating chocolate in bar form. It had a nice firm texture and a fine grain structure and gave a satisfying snap when broken. Comfortingly smooth in the mouth, yet not cloying, it was sweet, but not overpoweringly so. Flavours - CT detected coconut, but I was getting delicious caramel notes to begin with and then, strangely but pleasantly, peanut butter. What a disappointment the G&B milk was in comparison - it was coarse and acidic with an almost metallic aftertaste; how could I have failed to notice this before? The two reservations I had with this bar were: 1) it was a little too sweet for my taste, 2) I would have preferred a higher cocoa content, although I did enjoy the caramel flavours. But all in all it is a delicious bar and we both very much enjoyed eating it. 8/10
Premium White Chocolate (28% cocoa) - sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, soya lecithin, natural vanilla.
Having fond childhood memories of white chocolate (of a brand which shall remain nameless), I hoped for a similar experience. It started well, breaking with a good snap and initially felt smooth in the mouth. This was about the best we could say for it as we found it to be a generic white chocolate without any individuality. It tasted foremost of milk powder and the vanilla was hard to detect. We both found it to be cloying and it left a not altogether pleasant coating around the mouth. The G&B bar by contrast, was really great with a powerful vanilla flavour and a good texture which was not in the least bit cloying. 4/10
Being somewhat of an idealist, I would prefer it if these bars were fairly traded and better still organic. However, overall we enjoyed trying these chocolate bars and came to realise just how much variation there is between different high cocoa content bars.