Monday, June 16, 2008

Come out swinging.

Bare Knuckle Dark Chocolate Cocoa Battle!

In this corner, in the pink trunks:
Contender 1a
Contender 1b
teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland Chocolate 99
99% cocoabutter
Gift from: Paul
Ingredients: Cocoa, cocoabutter, soyafree, 1% Fructose (Fruitsugar)
[I've tasted this one before, because I've been eating one segment at a time at Paul's advice so that I can savor it, but I've never compared it directly to another high-cocoa chocolate.]

In this corner, in the gold trunks:
Contender 2
Michel Cluizel Chocolatier (Paris) Noir Infini 99%
99% de cacao
Gift from: Steph
Ingredients: cocoas, cane sugar, spices, cocoa butter, bourbon vanilla bean
[a birthday present that has been languishing in snack jail because I felt like "the occasion" to eat it was never special enough and the wrapper looked distinguished!]

Before the bell: Obvious from the indredients list, the teuscher has fewer bells and whistles, which I imagine is a boon to those who want their dark chocolate "authentic" and untrammeled. However, I am hopeful that the Noir Infini might have more flavor than just cocoa. I wonder if that cane sugar will make it more noticeably sweet.

About your judge: I can't hold a candle to professional chocolate tasters who talk about specific fruit nuances as if they were sampling wine, like the woman I heard on the radio one evening who made me angry at all gourmands for about 45 minutes. She had all kinds of (to my defensive ears) hoity-toity ways to describe chocolate, a multi-step tasting process, and if I remember correctly pointed out her more refined palate several times. I'm sure she'd feel sorry for my weak tongue and descriptive skills. I am not a professional chocolate taster/describer, so this is going to be a little less proffesh.

Weight has been met.

Tasting: 0.25 oz of each variety.

Let's have a clean, tasty fight! Come out swinging, as it were, etc.

Reflections on the teuscher tasting in real-time: The smell is much like rich cocoa powder. I imagine a little bit of a sourness behind that. Biting a piece off...holding it in my mouth. The powder flavor is melting into a rich bitterness. There's a certain blankness to it. I feel like I'm getting to the heart of the chocolate flavor. I can see why people make food/sauces with chocolate. This is more like food. It's barely sweet at all. Afterward, on my tongue is a thick lingering wave of deep black-hole. It's sucked all flavor into itself. There's a tiny fruitiness or something at the very end. Now I will chew slowly on the rest of the piece. I like the thickness of this bar. It chews nicely. The chocolate is so present. I keep looking over at the wrapper and the [few] ingredients like something more will be revealed. This chocolate is full and thick and big. It's really the taste left in the mouth when I'm done that makes this one special. There's that tiny sour remnant and the sense that I've done something.

Palate Cleanser: limeaid with a water chaser.

Michel Cluizel tasting in real time: This one immediately smells sweeter. Are these chocolates so powdery [bloom] because I've waited so long to eat them [or because I stored them incorrectly]? In the mouth, on the tongue, this takes longer to melt despite being a thinner bar, but my mouth is probably colder even though the water I drank was room temp. This bar is actually more bitter. I thought it would taste a lot sweeter than this. Tastes darker and harsher....still not melting like I'd like it to. I'm going to start chewing. Wow. It's very bitter. I wonder what spices are in here. There's an aftertaste of something I can't identify. This one is not bad, but wow. It's so intense. Thick, hard-flavored paste in my mouth. Really coats the teeth and the sides of my cheek. I feel like the flavor fades as I swallow it. Initially this is the more forceful chocolate, but the flavor takes leave of me more quickly, too. There's a higher, sharper aftertaste. Really no sweetness at all.

By KO, the winner is: teuscher Chocolate 99!

Afterthoughts: I thought I'd like the Michel Cluizel more because it looked (from the ingredients list) and smelled like it would be sweeter and therefore easier to eat. But the teuscher had a better texture (including the construction of the bar) and flavor, and was more enjoyable as an "experience." This does not mean I won't finish both bars, but it does mean that I won't be eating them back-to-back anymore. I'm going to look for some food/wine that pairs well with chocolate to see if I can bring out some of the nuances in these treats (it seems plebian to call them snacks. I think I've been outclassed by chocolate).

A few extra notes on my process:
Contrary to suggestions on this site, which I did not read before this tasting because I wanted to do this intuitively, I let the radio play in the background. Both chocolates were at room temperature. Unfortunately, bloom was present on the chocolates, as they've been hanging out in jail together, but this should affect only the aesthetics, not the flavor. Both snapped very well when I broke them, though the teuscher bar is thicker and had a more pleasing break.

I observed, broke, smelled, melted, and chewed both pieces in that order. I did not prefer one chocolate's packaging over the other. I liked both the black outer label of the Infini and the pink foil of the Chocolate 99.

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