Dark Chocolate Taste Test

Posted by in Misc on January 16 2009 | Leave A Comment

Aussie Chocabloggers Ashleigh and myself made the happy discovery that we both live in the same city. We and our respective families have met up a few times, found each to our liking and decided to have a blind dark chocolate tasting. Interspersed with conversation, two kittens, a curious dog, great food, greater wine and furthering friendships.

dark-chocolate-selection

Ashleigh’s lovely wife Marie and my husband Love Chunks snuck off to render the following chocolates into smaller, completely unrecognisable pieces. After all, it can be quite easy to identify a chocolate from the shape or pattern imprinted on it, so all kinds of creative knife work (think shaving, slicing and not snapping where the usual lines are) was required.

There were twelve dark tastes to pick from – Lindt 70%, 85%, Lindt 70% with chilli, Green and Black’s 70%, Schwarze Herren 50%, Whittaker’s 72%, Cadbury Old Gold 70%, Cote d’Or 86%, Lindt pear 70%, ‘Luxury’ brand gluten and dairy free 70%, Organic with Cayenne 70% and Nestle Heaven truffle.

Mind you, neither of us are pompous, self-important experts (thank goodness); just lovers and far-too-regular eaters of the stuff. Ashleigh was worried that his palate might have already become a little tired after several hours of barbecued lamb, chicken, red wine, champagne, home made red wine, lemon meringue pie, more red wine etc but I assured him that our readers would most likely prefer our non-laboratory-style way of proceeding.

Ashleigh in serious taster mode, and Love Chunk’s torso behind, waiting to serve the next round.

I whipped out two silk scarves and – bear in mind, our families were present, so it was all safe and appropriate – we nervously put them on. Love Chunks gently placed pieces in our mouths in a much more fun and frivolous version of holy communion. After trying each piece, as you can see from Ashleigh here, actually identifying them was really bloody difficult.

Neither of us (yet) have the sophisticated tasting notes of Simon and were struggling to write down our answer/guess next to each of the twelve spaces. Were they smooth, gritty, sharp, bitter, buttery, dull, creamy or spicy? Ordinary or delicious? Zesty with a hint of coffee and a slight whiff of woodsmoke? A cheeky variety not encountered before but holding lots of chocolatey promise?

I don’t have a huge goitre growing from my wrist; it is the cats’ scratching post behind me!

My daughter Sapphire looked on, both bemused and amused and constantly seeking reassurance that yes, we’d be sharing out the rest of the blocks of chocolate with them all.

Scores out of twelve were not much to be proud of, I’m afraid. The ones Ashleigh identified I didn’t and vice versa. It has left us both determined to study our subject matter even harder and with more dedication than before. Despite this reality check, there was one block that we both identified as being our favourite. Adjectives-in-common were “dark but creamy, not as gritty or as bitter as some ultra darks” to the very Kath-and-Kim “Noice, very very noice.”

And who was the Dark Horse that caused two esteemed Chocabloggers to rant so effusively? It was this:

cote-dor-86

Yes, it’s amusing that, like Nigel Tufnell’s “But it goes all the way up to number eleven” amplifier in the movie ‘This is Spinal Tap’, cute little Cote d’Or just had to beat Lindt’s dark 85 by one tiny percent. Amazingly, their cheekiness works because theirs does taste creamier, stronger and better. In fact, we both mistook it for a 70% due to tasting so smooth and still holding a hint of sweetness. Unlike the Lindt 85% and the very disappointingly bitter Green and Black’s, it was not as “strip yer mouth”, to use Ashleigh’s very fine descriptor. Cote d’Or 86% was a lovely surprise and most definitely our pick of the twelve we tasted.

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Comments On This Post

  1. Blind chocolate tasting? Sounds like good fun. D’you mind if I use the idea for the next chocolate meetup in my area? I’s not copyrighted, is it? ;)

  2. Go for it.

    Its plenty of fun, but harder work than you’d think!

  3. per

    … oh, I’m so glad to see Cote d’Or get the love.

    … one of my favorites.

  4. Christine

    Ashleigh’s ‘strip yer mouth’ description is very apt! I’ve avoided 85%+ after trying Lindt’s version but this one sounds much better. Will have to give it a go…

  5. Here are a few more subjective thoughts and recollections:

    - The “Luxury Dark Chocolate” was the Kinnertons: http://www.chocablog.com/reviews/kinnerton-luxury-dark-chocolate/

    - There are significant differences in the amount on vanilla used by different makers. One really stood out, I’m pretty sure it was the Schwarze Herren (which for those of you in Europe I can really recommend, it’s apparently very readily available). The amount of vanilla is one of those things that can be really hard to spot until you try a few side-by-side.

    - There is an astonishing range of bitter / tannic / mouth-gripping, particularly between the 70% and above darks, so it came as a huge surprise to find just how good the Cote D’Or was. It was comparable to a nice 70%, or even one of the silky smooth 50%’s. And I don’t think my palate was completely ruined to be making that comparison.

    - The new Cadbury Old Gold 70% is a nice, inoffensive chokky that will not set everybody on fire with excitement, nor will it offend. If you want to put out something that pretty much everybody could enjoy, this has a lot going for it. My oldest son was cursing me the other day: “You have ruined me! I don’t like milk chocolate any more! I’d some more of that Old Gold! Ruined, I am, and it’s all YOUR fault!”

    - Comparing a chilli and a ceyenne side-by-side was very interesting. The chilli can be a bit on the powerful side, a bit too “smack in the chops”. The cayenne is milder, and I found it more enjoyable. For those who like the chilli, up to a point, and then get put off by it, seek out a cayenne and give that go.

  6. Cote d’Or is definitely a winner – in both our books. Actually, a ‘blind tasting’ party would be fun, regardless of how knowledgeable the tasters are.

  7. Margarida

    I eat a small piece of Cote d’Or (86%) everyday. I have a bar sitting by my desk and each day I take a small square. Here’s to a healthy heart. :)