Friday, May 28, 2010
3oz (85g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soybean lecithin, vanilla
12g sugar/43g serving (27.9% by wt.)
I don't know much about Vermont-based Lake Champlain Chocolates except that I've seen the company's products around and that they get a positive mention in Steve Almond's Candyfreak. The bar I have here is one of several very dark bars Lake Champlain offers, differentiated by cacao origin: This particular chocolate is from an island off the coast of Gabon called São Tomé and Príncipe. The wrapper describes the chocolate's flavor as “fruity and robust...exceedingly complex...pure” with “resounding vanilla tones” (from the vanilla, of course). So what do I think of it?
This is a rather dark bar with a dull finish and a shape that has held together in the wrapper with no flaking or scuffing, which is something I can't always say. It smells richly chocolatey and breaks into clean rectangles. A bite reveals chocolate that is dense and creamy, with a bit of chew and a complex flavor.
An aside: There's a difference between being mild and lacking complexity. Even if you haven't bothered to pay close attention to how the flavor of various bars differs, if you've eaten enough chocolate you'll notice that some bars you just don't go back to after the first few pieces, and it's not because something stands out as being “off.” I think you feel indifferent when you eat chocolate that lacks complexity—it's one-note, boring, unintriguing, even though it's technically just as much chocolate as any other. You experience the opposite when you eat something chocolate flavored, like mousse or cake, and exclaim “Oh, that's just so...so chocolatey!” Similarly, you can make two pans of brownies using the same recipe but with two different chocolates and have one pan taste markedly more chocolatey than the other.
Back to Lake Champlain. This chocolate is complex but not super-dark, with a flavor that is perhaps a bit nutty. It's not my favorite bar ever, but I doubt I'll have trouble finishing it. And that's all I have to say about that.
Conclusion: Lake Champlain Chocolates Dark Chocolate 70% Sao Thome is satisfying, interesting, and easy to eat without being boring.
[Update 1/18/12: I fixed the color issue.]