Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fresh & Easy Swiss 72% Dark Chocolate


3.5oz (100g) bar
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, natural flavor
11g sugar/40 serving (27.5% by wt.)

Corporate Info: Fresh & Easy is a grocery store operating in the Southwestern U.S. The company stocks a combination of large brands and its own store brand, operates relatively small stores, avoids additives in its private label products, and is a subsidiary of a large European chain (note: this may not last)all of which make it sound like a more mainstream Trader Joe's. (Some of the products even look like they could be TJ's private label goods.)

Today's Bar: Fresh & Easy's store brand 72% Swiss chocolate, also containing “natural flavors,” which I'm guessing means vanilla if not others as well. I can't remember where I found this bar, but it certainly wasn't at Fresh & Easy. But hey, whatever.

Appearance: Big, thin, flat. Matte, lending a greyish cast to a medium-toned, slightly reddish bar.

Smell: Sugary, nutty, kind of thin.

Taste: Not a fan. Crunchy, then thick, somewhat chalky, with a thin, sweet flavor. I was reminded of cocoa powder, then recalled a conversation with Nat of Madre Chocolate at the Northwest Chocolate Festival: I was able to try a new, Hawaii-grown chocolate they're working on, which he euphemistically described as “tasting like Oreos” because of its flat, cocoa-powder-like flavor. He pointed out that the challenge was in the fermentation, which is what develops the complex sourness that many good chocolates have, and which was the next step in bringing their new cacao up to snuff. Perhaps it's the fermentation that's bringing me down in the case of Fresh & Easy's product. I will say that today's co-taster thinks this chocolate is okay: “It starts out dry and unremarkable, but then there's a little bit of richness and creaminess that comes out.” He still doesn't think it stands out from the other chocolates we've tried, but he doesn't dislike it as much as I do.

Conclusion: Fresh & Easy Swiss 72% Dark Chocolate is thin and sweet, lacking the rounded complexity of the chocolates I tend to like.

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