Yesterday night (August 28, 2012) Meg and I extracted our stash of heavenly cocoa from the fridge in a long awaited mint chocolate tasting event. After allowing the three bars to reach an adequate temperature (room-temp, ideally) we splayed them out on the table and took note of packaging graphics, appearance and any major notable variables. Before our tasting took place, Megan very intentionally selected three quality brands with as many of the same constant variables as possible. These variables include: 60-70% cocoa content, organic, fair trade, dark – high levels of flavonoids/cocoa liqueur, and containing mint as a contributing primary flavor.
In a manic, but connoisseur-like approach we carried out a series of consistent tasting techniques throughout the event. We started by taking note of the wrapping quality and appearance. Then we proceeded to observe the dimensions and finish of the chocolate bar. Is the piece matte or shiny? Does it break with a snap or feel more pliable? Is it somewhat resistant to body heat or does it melt like the wicked witch of the west?
Using our fingers we increased the temperature of each segment, releasing aromas and flavor qualities for ten seconds. Then we transferred the chunks to the surface of our tongues to be shifted at mouth temp for another ten seconds. The final flavors were released as we started to chew, exposing a variety of decadent, rich, bitter tones coupled with moments of salivation. Water was used as a palette cleansing device after the completion of every brand.
So what is a chocolate tasting without results? Here is a conclusive series of notes for each brand broken up by TEXTURE, FLAVOR and OVERALL EXPERIENCE.
Divine – Mint Dark Chocolate
Texture: Hard, snaps, high concentration of crystallized chunks distributed throughout, medium matte, low sheen
Flavor: Subtle (almost unnoticeable) mint, zest, earth
Overall: While this brand excels in crunchy texture and mouth feel, it severely lacks in overall and lasting flavor
Green & Black’s – Dark Chocolate infused with peppermint oil for an intense mint taste
Texture: Soft, smooth, creamy, pliable, less snap, medium sheen, low matte
Flavor: Mint, sweet, clean mouth feel
Overall: Clean mouth feel, lasting flavor of mint from start to finish, quality in packaging and taste is evident
Alter Eco – Dark Mint, cool crispy mint BOLD AND BRISK
Texture: Fine mint crystals, grit/sand feel, less snap (and subsequently more pliable)
Flavor: Subtle, permeating mint, high level of sweetness
Overall: Best overall mint experience, this bar successfully accomplishes what both other bars separately could not: A combination of finely distributed mint flavor in both bar and crystallized chunks, texture and creamy mouth feel from start to finish.
Grab yourselves some of these and try!
Let us know if you have different brand/bar recommendations…