Thursday, October 04, 2007

chocolate showdown

the leftovers

My step-mom loves dark chocolate. So when she was in town, we held a little dark chocolate showdown. We cruised around town buying one of almost every brand we could find, generally staying above 60% dark, ranging from super-market cheapies to specialty shop cuties. We arranged three blind testings, each with five chocolates. Then we had a taste-off of our favorites from each testing. We rated each chocolate on aroma, texture, and flavor, then gave an overall score. Here are our findings:

  • The three of us (my step-mom, husband, and I) rated most chocolates very similarly. We had some definite preferences. But I thought our different palates would affect the ratings more significantly than they did.
  • Per the taste test cliche, a couple supermarket cheapies ranked much higher than a couple gourmet brands - good news when making that flourless chocolate cake that requires 14oz of chocolate.
  • The best-of-the-best taste-off was pointess. It was impossible to rank the top chocolates; they were very different in all aspects (aroma, texture, flavor), but all really good in their own ways.
  • All the chocolates taste better on their own, without being compared. Since we only used three squares from each bar, I had a lot left over to nibble on. Chocolates that I rated pretty low in the showdown, still taste pretty good as a late night snack.

Here are the full results (slightly skewed toward my preferences):

Really good
Alprose Swiss Baking Chocolate 52%, 7.70sfr for 300g (not really fair at such a low cocao percentage)
Munz Swiss Premium 70% 1.40sfr
Cailler Noir Cacao Extreme 74%, 2.90sfr

Suchard Sensations Noir, 70%, 2.60sfr
Frey Ecuador 65%
Frey Noir Special 72%, 1.40sfr
Villars Chocolat Noir 72%, 2.90sfr

Teuscher Chocolate 66%, 7.20sfr
Teuscher Chocolate 77%, 7.20sfr
Sprungli Grand Cru Criollo de Maracaibo Venezuela 65%, 6.20sfr (I loved this one, but no one else did)
Michel Cluisel Les 1ers Crus de Plantation Los Ancones 67%, 9.40sfr (for 80g of 5 different varietals)
Dolfin Noir, 70%, 3.60sfr

Frey Edel Bitter 55%, 1.40sfr
Frey Noir Supreme Authentique Extra Dunkel 78%, 2.10sfr
Mascao Eclats de Cacao (with nibs) 73%, 2.90sfr (really a DQ because the nibs completely interfered with the flavor and texture)

Here's a site that gives guidelines for chocolate tastings.


Astrid said...

Thank you thank you thank you for sharing the results! This is so useful! I'm relieved to see the chocolate I use for baking (Frey 72%) is in your good category. Must try the ones in very good! Still, I have this prejudice that dark chocolate is better in France, and usually import Nestlé 50% for basic baking or making chocolate chips for cookies. I know, coals to Newcastle but they adjust flavors for each market I've been told. But I haven't tested my prejudice with a blind taste test, should try that!

Margaret said...

K-Tip, the Swiss consumer magazine, ran an article on dark chocolates in a recent issue (you need to be a subscriber to see the article), and they warn that there can be very high heavy metal concentrations in darker chocolates. It would be interesting to compare their taste test results with yours, though.

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