Unless you are (or know) someone with a food allergy, you probably don’t give much thought to alternative versions of certain products. Lactose intolerance affects many people, and this generally means that most forms of chocolate are off the menu (a terrible thought, I know). Thankfully there are a few companies out there who have bothered to address this, creating alternative recipes for those who cannot eat ‘normal’ chocolate, and Josef Zotter has come up with this Labooko double pack of soy chocolate bars – one ‘dark’ and one white.
The packaging and form of the bars follows the standard Labooko format. Two bars in the familiar mould with the majority of ingredients being fair trade, organic – or both. Zotter make a point of emphasising that their soya is organic and GMO free, as one might expect.
So what do they taste like? I tried the ‘dark’ bar first. With 40% cacao, unrefined sugar and a little sesame it delivers quite a good cacao hit with an underlying sweetness, but it remains a little ‘flat’ on the palate. The lack of milk means that the rich creamy aspects of a high cacao content milk chocolate never really develop. The cacao flavours are there but they never really seem to ‘lift off’ in they way standard chocolate does.
This is more obvious with the white bar. I took a piece of this one immediately after I tasted the dark bar, and it was quite hard to think of it as chocolate! There’s a floral, earthy flavour to this bar that I didn’t really like much at all as it seemed to sit above any cacao flavours that this bar might have contained. It wasn’t completely unpleasant but it certainly didn’t make me want to go back for a second try.
These two bars put me in mind of the ‘ersatz’ chocolate bars from Europe that my Polish grandmother would give us in the seventies. It’s trying to be chocolate but doesn’t actually get there, leaving me feeling slightly disappointed. of course, I am not lactose intolerant and so have been able to sample all manner of wonderful chocolate creations which knock these bars into any number of cocked hats. For all I know Zotter could have produced the best milk free chocolate in the world – all I need is a suitably allergic guinea pig to test them out on (but the person I had in mind hasn’t been available to date). I tried these bars out on several people (none of whom were allergic to milk) and the verdict was universal – dark bar good, white bar not so good. I think we need opinions from the non-chocolate eating community for the full picture, but for the time being I’d say if you can eat ‘ordinary’ chocolate, you’d be wasting your time on this.