On a recent trip to Latvia I was out & about doing a little shopping when I came across Emils Gustavs range of handmade chocolate bars. Apparently Gustavs is one of the premium brands in Latvia, and this dark chocolate and cherry bar is typically Eastern European. Sour cherries have always been popular (I remember having Morello cherry jam at my Polish grandmother’s house as a boy) and so it seemed fitting to grab this bar for a taste.
In another typically European move, this ‘dark’ chocolate has only 53% cocoa solids, making it more bittersweet than truly dark, like many eastern European chocolates.
As you can see, the bar has been made using a rather lovely design with the Gustavs name imprinted squarely in the middle. Flip it over, and those fat, juicy sour cherries are all too evident and obviously added by hand. The positioning and size of the cherries and the fact that the bar is moulded as a single slab without dividing lines means that when it comes to tasting the only thing to do is to break off a hunk and get stuck in.
It wasn’t hard breaking off a piece with a cherry in it, and from my point of view this is definitely the best way to enjoy this bar. The sweetness of the chocolate is offset beautifully by the sharp, tangy cherries (which have retained some of their moisture and are quite chewy) which means that the initial sweet chocolate flavours are countered by that cherry sourness as soon as you decide to bite down on the fruit.
Were it not for the inclusion of the cherries, I think I would be looking a lot less favourably on this particular bar. The chocolate is smooth and light with quite robust flavour, but of course 53% cocoa means 47% other stuff, including sugar, so the true character of the chocolate will always be masked. Without the cherries there to liven things up, this would just be another bar of average, forgettable chocolate.