I adore premium chocolate bars. I have a bit of chocolate every single day, and that makes me a pretty happy gal. There are so many premium brands on the market now, though, that it can get a bit overwhelming. Hopefully, I’ll be able to save you a few bucks or at least steer you in some new, exciting directions.
Everyone has preferences for chocolate. None of the tasters in our household are overly fond of very sweet chocolate, although one will eat just about anything you stick in front of her if you tell her there’s chocolate in it. I tend to like dark, but not overly bitter chocolates. I don’t want to feel like I’m eating a baking square. On the other hand, my husband likes his chocolate like he likes his women: simple and mean. I’m sorry, I meant mysterious and sophisticated. In general, our Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar days are behind us, so if you think that Special Dark is the best thing ever, consider trying some of these bars! I used to think that, too.
During a recent trip to Central Market, I encountered two different bars with chocolate AND espresso. What could be better? I brought them home and pit them against each other for my affections. Here are the contenders:
Vivani 100% Organic Dark Chocolate with Espresso
Cocoa Content: 68%
It’s a shame that production of a bar isn’t worth more than flavor, because the technical aspects of the Vivani bar are excellent. The Vivani bar has excellent snap and a firm texture that turns quite silky and seductive when it hits the warmth of the tongue. It seems to evaporate, leaving behind bitter chocolate liquor notes. Once we got past the technical aspects, we started finding flaws in the flavor. There may be espresso in it, but two blind tasters did not notice that it had coffee at all. One taster described a “burnt” note. While the chocolate is of good quality, any noticeable espresso notes are either lacking or, if present, are the bitter notes that are not indicative of a quality ingredient. The bar starts out sweet and finishes bitter. Dark chocolate lovers will find this bar to be pretty good, but probably not the best they’ve ever had.
Newman’s Own Organics Espresso Dark Chocolate
Cocoa Content: 54%
A bar that hovers around the 50% cocoa content mark is like someone trying too hard to please everyone. It’s risky. Milk chocolate lovers might find it too dark, and dark chocolate lovers could find it too puny. The Newman’s Own Espresso bar, however, succeeds in being an all-around people-pleaser. This bar is sweeter than the Vivani, but the crunchy espresso grounds not only provide texture, but an interesting depth, too.
The Newman’s Own bar was the clear taste test winner for us. If you like your chocolate and coffee together, give it a try.
Ratings: Dark Espresso Bars
*Flavor score is weighted twice due to its importance.