Saturday, August 6, 2011

German Chocolate: Two Pink Peppercorn (Rosa Pfeffer) Bars

REWE Dark Chocolate 66% Cacao Pink Peppercorn (Rosa Pfeffer)
75g bar
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar [translated as either “cane sugar” or “sucrose”], cocoa butter, pink peppercorns
37.3% sugar by wt.

Leysieffer Dark Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns (Rosa Pfeffer)
100g bar
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, pink peppercorns, soy lecithin

The last two of my German chocolate bars share an inclusion uncommon in the U.S, pink peppercorns. Pink peppercorns come from two non-pepper plants from Central and South America, and while I've seen them here in spice shops and peppercorn mixes, for whatever reason they seem to be more popular in Germany. One of these bars was my first random chocolate buy, a funky flavored, inexpensive store brand from a big chain supermarket called REWE (“RAY-vuh”) that was near one of our hotels. Later, when I was selecting flavors at Leysieffer, I decided to buy one of their rosa pfeffer bars for comparison's sake. The REWE bar is 66% cacao, and the Leysieffer is their usual 55%.

Both bars mostly smell like chocolate, but they certainly taste like more! The REWE bar is thin, with crispy, slightly chewy peppercorns. The chocolate is pretty mild, of the creamy/chalky variety, and the peppercorns have a little pepperiness, but it's not strong—herby flavor, no bite. The Leysieffer chocolate is thicker, sweeter, and waxier, and its peppercorns have more spice and maybe more crunch to them as well. FYI, the shiny, crisp peppercorn skin doesn't really taste like anything; it's the crunchy little UFO-shaped seed inside that has the bitter, resiny flavor that feels like a super-light cousin of spicy black pepper or numbing Sichuan peppercorns.

For me, the REWE bar was kind of insipid, and the Leysieffer chocolate's sweetness didn't do anything for the herby peppercorns the way they did for elderflower and rose. Contrary to expectations, I ended up finding pink peppercorn chocolate boring, and I wonder if I wouldn't like this better with a darker chocolate and maybe a small amount of another type of peppercorn, upping the intensity of both chocolate and inclusion. For what it's worth, my co-taster thought the Leysieffer was pretty good.

Pink peppercorn + chocolate conclusion: For me, the mild chocolate and complex but relatively quiet pink peppercorn flavors just weren't enough, but I could see how others might like the combination.

[Note: I traveled with these and also moved them around a bit before opening them, so both the chocolate and peppercorns are more broken than when I first bought the bars.]


  1. Last summer I bought a 72% bar from Hotel Chocolat that had 'chilli & pink peppercorns' added. The bar had a lot going for it - it was single origin, and organic. But that was back before I'd started working on my spice tolerance, and it was too flavorful for me. I'd like to try it again, but I don't think any benefits could outweigh that costly bar a second time around.

  2. Ooh, I'd never heard of Hotel Chocolat before, but I'm looking at the site and now I'm intrigued. It sure ain't cheap...