Thursday, May 5, 2011

Equal Exchange Orange Dark Chocolate 65%

3.5oz (100g) bar
Ingredients: Organic fair trade chocolate liquor, oft. raw cane sugar, oft. cocoa butter, oft. unrefined cane sugar, o. orange oil, oft. ground vanilla beans
13g sugar/40g serving (32.5% by wt.)

Corporate Info: Massachusetts co-op Equal Exchange is serious about fair trade, organic growing methods, relationships with farmers, and everything that goes along with it. I'm actually overwhelmed by the extensive website, but suffice to say that the reason behind the company's founding was to do good via products that now encompass your usual array of tasty and potentially problematic foods from the tropics: chocolate, coffee, tea, bananas, etc. At this point they're well-established and respected (the Better World Shopping Guide gives them an A+), so if you care about “Corporate Info” enough to read this paragraph, this is the sort of company you'll love.

Appearance: A good, solid, mostly matte, slightly greyish brown.

Smell: I actually bought, partially ate, and intended to review this bar ages ago, but I also just bought a new one as well. The old pieces smell only a little and not of orange at all, more like dusty dried ginger too long unused. The new bar, fresh from sealed plastic, retains the volatile orange oil, light and warm and a little spicy. An interesting contrast.

Taste: Let's try both bars here too. The old one has little orange flavor per se, but it's still tangy (not sour or acrid) and fresh-tasting, with a tiny bit of spice—not an autumn-pie cinnamon or allspice, but something lighter like cardamom, ginger, or nutmeg. The new bar still tastes subtly of orange oil, which to be clear isn't at all like the flesh of the orange (or, say, juice) but again more like an interesting and unique, slightly bitter spice. Also, this chocolate tastes less tangy, perhaps because it's more balanced by the flavoring. Texture is dense and somewhat chalky.

Conclusion: Equal Exchange Orange Dark Chocolate 65% is mostly chocolate, with a little bitter warmth from the orange oil.


  1. Interesting. I tasted nothing near cardamom the last time I was given a square of this bar... but I've recently been rethinking how variable batches of certain, well-defined flavors may actually be.

  2. I agree that individual bars can vary, even among large-batch products. I've had the occasional bar from a trusted brand just taste "off" and, as here, noticed how flavors deteriorate over time. And then there's the influence of my amateur palate! I'm not ready to commit to cardamom in the orange oil flavor, but I don't yet have the vocabulary to distinguish between this flavor and others, and I end up reaching for the spices that feel like they're on the right track. I'd love to hear how you'd describe it.

  3. I'd have to try this bar again, it was months ago that I tried it! But I don't remember tasting anything very complex; I love cardamom, so I was excited to hear of its presence. I'll let you know if I try this again.

    Interesting: Kerrin @ My Kugelhopf posted yesterday about how one (advanced nose) can potentially pick out 500 aromas from cacao. With this in mind, my palate is as amateur as they come:)