Let me introduce what I call the sodium-deficiency chocolate range. Cross paths with it once and you will have enough sodium to last the rest of your life.
The actual name of this five bar set sent to me by Napa Valley-based Le Belge Chocolatier is the Varietal Sea Salt Artisan Chocolate Collection. Of the five 85 gram bars, four are dark chocolate and one is milk; the $20 price tag definitely leans toward the steep side.
I paused long over Le Belge’s designs. The colors, fonts, and patterns remind me of something a hotel would put out. Lessening the number of fonts would help the look. I also keep comparing the designs to construction paper cut-outs, but could that just be my disinterest in this artistic style?
The problem is that my perspective on the outside carried on to the inside. Ironically, perhaps, my favorites of the five were the 31% milk chocolate Sea Salted Almond and the 72% dark Sea Salt. The former is flavor-packed: the caramel notes from the chocolate, bountiful flakes of sea salt, and small almond pieces here and there. It’s impressive that Le Belge makes such a high amount of salt work here. The plain Sea Salt bar is a basic salt and chocolate pairing. Since it doesn’t have other flavors, it is the one where you can taste the chocolate most. For 72%, it is fairly sweet, but that works to pair with the salt.
My least favorite was the Tellicherry Pepper & Sea Salt. Being a 54% dark, it is too sweet a dark chocolate for my tastes. It also has a powerful, fresh pepper taste. Too powerful – it overpowers even the salt. The semisweet chocolate works better in the Himalayan Sea Salt & Strawberry, whose strawberry aspect comes from freeze dried strawberries and strawberry flavor. The salt, thankfully, doesn’t stand out as much as in some of these. The Mediterranean Sea Salt & Lemon Zest, which is another 72% dark, is alright: the taste from dried lemon peels and natural lemon citrus flavor is trailed by the salt in an interesting effect.
Strongly disliking one bar, not particularly liking two, and feeling okay about the other two doesn’t justify the price tag for me. It is true that the splashes of flavors and semisweet chocolate might work better for other palates than mine, but I still feel that there is room for improvement. Le Belge has a basis, but I would like to see more sculpting happen on top of that.