Wel this is interesting. This new range of ‘after dinner’ chocolates from Bendicks seem to be more than a superficial rebranding. Rather than just change the packaging a little, they’ve introduced this new “Bitter” range of dark chocolates with a whopping 95% cocoa solids.
Now we’ve reviewed lots of high cocoa-content bars before – even a couple of 100% bars, but I’ve never come across something with such high cocoa content aimed at such an every-day market.
As you can see, this new range comes in handy traffic-light style packaging, with each of the 100g tubes containing eight individually (and colourfully) wrapped chocolates.
The flavours are Bittergingers (ginger fondant), Bittermints (flavoured with peppermint oil) and Bitteroranges (with a slightly longer list of ingredients including orange peel, lemon peel, natural orange flavour, salt and chilli extract).
I’m going to start with the mint, as that’s the most common flavour for this kind of after dinner chocolate. They have a pleasantly minty aroma, which while noticeable isn’t as intense as some other peppermint chocolates I’ve tasted. The chocolate has a slightly matte finish, and that comes through in the texture. It’s not as smooth as a chocolate with a lower cocoa content, but it’s by no means grainy.
It is very difficult to get a handle on the flavour though, because as soon as you bite a piece off, the mint flavour starts to take over. There doesn’t appear to be any natural sweetness in the chocolate, but the intense peppermint sweetness of the thick fondant filling quickly counters any bitterness. The overall effect is something that isn’t particularly “chocolatey”, but is genuinely quite refreshing.
In the red corner, we have the Bittergingers. These are exactly the same size and shape and use the same 95% dark chocolate. The fondant filling is the same consistency as the mints – a firm, slightly crumbly, slightly chewy consistency that works well as it melts at a similar rate to the chocolate. The ginger is delicious, if perhaps not quite as intense as the mints. It also builds more slowly and subtly and leaves a wonderful warm feeling in the mouth.
Finally, we have the Bitteroranges with the added attraction of a hint of chilli. As you can see from the photo, this is the only one with a hint of colour – probably from the orange peel. The flavour is of natural oranges and quite subtle. There’s nothing over the top here – even the chilli is “just right” – like the Bittergingers, it just leaves a nice warmth in the mouth once the chocolate and fondant have melted away.
Those not used to very dark chocolate might have a problem with these, but I loved them. Most chocolates that market themselves as ‘bitter’ or ‘intense’ have weird and wacky fillings, but in this case most of the intensity comes from the chocolate itself, and I find that rather refreshing.
It’s great to see high cocoa content chocolate being used in new products, although I would have liked to see more information on country of origin and the kind of beans used on the packaging. This range would certainly make an interesting addition to any dinner party – just be sure to buy all three flavours and let your guests discuss the flavour combinations. The conversation could go on all night.