After alluding, on quite a number of occasions, to my chocolate purchases in England, I thought it time that I actually blogged some of them.
Today, we have Lindt 90% cocoa dark chocolate and Seed & Bean extra dark chocolate with lavender, both of which are dairy free and vegan.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't expect much from the Lindt 90% block. I thought it would be like the 85% cocoa block, widely available in Australia, but darker. I bought it with the belief that I could probably track it down in Australia if I tried hard enough, and as such nearly didn't bother with it at all.
Such foolishness. I can only say, now, that the 5% cocoa difference between the 85% cocoa and the 90% cocoa blocks makes a world of difference. A world. I loved this block more than I have ever loved a plain chocolate block before.
My first bite saw me inhaling in surprise, and then with deep pleasure, and then closing my eyes in enjoyment, and then opening them again in wonder.
I don't know how Lindt does it, but suspect that the real vanilla bean might be part of the effect. The chocolate is surprisingly sweet for a 90% block, but it is sweet in an entirely chocolatey way - not cloying, or sickly, or even sugary. Just sweet enough to balance the cocoa, and to give a result that is all chocolate and all deliciousness and all delight. It tastes of more than chocolate but also entirely of chocolate. It is lovely.
Having discovered this, I am now doubting my initial (foolish) belief that the block is available in Australia. As far as I can tell, it isn't. And I find that very unfair indeed.
The lavender block is 72% cocoa, and uses lavender oil rather than dried lavender. The result is a smooth block, quite silky in texture and taste, with a subtle lavender smell and a strong lavender taste.
At first bite, the lavender actually seemed a bit too strong for me. This remained the case at second bite, and possibly even at third. Over time, though, the block grew on me. By the end (and I ate it spread out, so the end wasn't immediately after the start), I was a convert.
It is difficult to accurately describe the taste of this chocolate. It is definitely floral, but once the initial shock of that wears off, the lavender balances nicely against the cocoa. There is no hint of bitterness, and it is also not particularly sweet. It is deep and mellow but with lavender, which isn't something I could have imagined before tasting it.
I don't think I will pine for this chocolate in the way that I may pine for the Lindt 90% block, but I am very glad I tried it and would be keen to try other Seed & Bean blocks in the future.
For another complementary review of Lindt 90%, see Hannah's 2010 post here. She found brownies and cookies in the flavour mix, which makes me even more keen to try it again!
Have you tried either of these blocks? And what are your thoughts on lavender in food form?
This post is part of my Vegan Month of Food contributions for October 2012.