Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chocolate reviews - an enormous chocolate-filled post!

I loved reading your comments on my last post. Some of you have never been gym people, others have made a similar transition to my recent one, and of course there is a group in the opposite position, enjoying what a gym has to offer. It goes to show that what suits one person will not necessarily suit another!

From exercise, I am moving to another of my favourite topics: chocolate. I have waxed lyrical about UK chocolates in the past. Now that I live here, I am having a great time working through the range of dark (dairy free) blocks on offer. This post reflects some two months of chocolate purchases and will be a whirlwind, snapshot review post!

Let's start with Tesco, which has several tiers of home brand chocolate to choose from. The cheapest, their 'every day value' and 'rainforest alliance' blocks, include milk and so I haven't tried those. However, their standard Tesco range includes dairy-free 74% cocoa and 85% cocoa blocks, which cost £1 ($1.80) for 100g.

I was interested to note the blend of African (Ivory Coast) and South American (Ecuador) cocoa in the 85% block. I don't profess to know the flavours associated with different cocoa growing regions, but I can say that I much preferred the 85% cocoa block (Ivory Coast + Ecuador cocoa) to the 74% equivalent (Ivory Coast only). A bit like super dark 90% cocoa Lindt, it tasted of brownies. Impressively, the 85% block also had no traces of bitterness and provided mellow, deep and semi-sweet flavours. The 74% block was enjoyable too, but it did have some bitter tones and overall I liked it less. 

Tesco 85% cocoa Ivory Coast & Ecuadorian chocolate

Marks out of 10? 7 / 10 for Tesco 74% cocoa, and 8 / 10 for Tesco 85% cocoa.

We have also tried one block from the 'Tesco Finest' range, which was a dark chocolate with peppermint offering containing 55% cocoa solids. It costs £1.50 for 100g. Mint chocolate is one of the flavoured chocolate varieties Mr Bite and I both like, but neither of us loved this version. The chocolate was average, and the mint flavours a little artificial. Overall, a 6/10 that we probably won't buy again.

Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' 72% cocoa block drew me in with its promise of 'hints of liquorice and spice'. To be honest, I thought the block actually included liquorice and spice. Wouldn't that be wonderful? In fact, this is a plain chocolate block that supposedly conjures up liquorice and spice from the cocoa flavours. I'm not sure I could find liquorice, but there are certainly spice notes and I liked this a lot. As it also features cocoa from Ecuador, it may be that my chocolate preferences are Equadorian in nature. At £1.40 for 100g it is a little bit more expensive than my favourite Tesco option, but I would rate it the same - 8/10.

We get more Ecuadorian cocoa in this J.D. Gross 70% cocoa chocolate with raspberries. J.D. Gross is the 'fancy' home brand offered by Lidl, one of Europe's budget supermarkets (a bit like Aldi, for my Australian readers familiar with that store). As I have yet to find a dairy-free chocolate block in Aldi, I wasn't expecting much from our trip to Lidl a few weeks ago. I was thus surprised and delighted to find many dairy-free dark chocolate blocks on offer. This raspberry one was one of the most expensive, and still cost just £1 for 125g.

The price would be irrelevant if the chocolate was awful, but I really loved this block. At 72% cocoa, the chocolate is not too dark but still has sufficient depth to satisfy a serious chocolate craving. Freeze dried raspberry pieces are studded throughout to give bursts of sweet fruit flavour, and they also provide an enjoyable texture contrast. This is one of my favourite blocks yet, and gets 8.5 / 10!

Leaving home brand chocolates behind, Montezuma is a British chocolate company that I discovered in 2012. They continue to offer a range of innovative chocolate flavours, and the blocks are quite readily available, usually at around £2.50 for 100g.

Ginger is another chocolate flavour that Mr B and I both enjoy, which is why there are two ginger chocolate blocks in this post (the other is below). The Montezuma 'Spice it Up' block included small ginger pieces in 70% Peruvian cocoa. The chocolate was pleasant, but the ginger pieces were too subtle for us. I did like the small pieces (large ginger chunks aren't really my thing) but there was a surprising lack of ginger flavour. Not my favourite from the brand, with a modest 7 / 10.

The Montezuma star

Happily, the dark chocolate orange and geranium block was more enjoyable. The flavours remain subtle, but here that worked well, as it meant that the geranium wasn't overpowering. Floral sweetness was provided by orange oil and geranium oil, and the flavours complemented the 73% cocoa perfectly. 

We both enjoyed this, and I am rating this block 9 / 10.

Montezuma orange and geranium chocolate

Last but not least is a Green & Black's dark chocolate ginger block (£2 for 200g). This brand is available in Australia, but I had never tried the ginger option. At 60% cocoa it is a sweeter dark chocolate, and it also provided far more ginger than the Montezuma block. At the same time, the ginger is not overpowering - it gives warmth to the chocolate, and enhances the chocolate rather than overwhelms it.

Sorry for the crumpled paper - the packaging
was put in the recycling before I got a photo!

This block uses South American cocoa, although I don't know which region it is from. In a final endorsement of cocoa from that part of the world, I'm giving this block 8.5 / 10.

Green & Black's ginger chocolate

So there we have it - eight blocks, cocoa levels from 60% to 85%, flavours from plain to exotic, and ratings from 6 / 10 to 9 / 10.

What chocolate have you enjoyed lately? Have you tried any of these blocks?


  1. Yum - chocolate! This post makes me want to get a piece of the Moser Roth 70% dark chocolate I found at Aldi grocery store.

    1. Chocolate has that tendency of asking to be eaten :-)

  2. As a connoisseur of chocolate wrappers, I am very disappointed in tesco's mint chocolate not being pleasing as I love the wrapper. I was looking at aldi today and surprised there was very little in the way of vegan chocolate. Am also disappointed that the dragon ginger let you down. The orange and geranium sounds lovely.

    1. It was a shame about that block - it ought to have been good! The packet was deceiving indeed. Luckily the good blocks in this selection made up for it :-)

      Aldi's insistence on putting milk into everything is the main reason I don't like the store. I can't find chocolate, cereal or biscuits there!

  3. Oooh, a chocolate degustation! I'll take note of your ratings and get only the 8 and ups! Thanks for sharing!

    Gourmet Getaways

  4. You had me at the titke! I'd go for yhe Green & Blacks ginger.

    1. Luckily that one should be readily available near you!

  5. What a fun "experiment". I'm just disappointed that you didn't involved other taste testers such as myself. ;-)


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