Friday, December 10, 2010

Chocolate Review: Chocolove 65% with Crystallized Ginger

Now ginger is a spice I haven't had much exposure to. I loved ginger ale for a time when I was younger, but my interest fell out there. Then I tried New Tree's 73% cocoa with ginger and was impressed with how well the spicy ginger went with the delectable chocolate; to date this is one of my favorite chocolate varieties period, perhaps right below my favorite mint. But New Tree is a little expensive for regular consumption, so while it's a fantastic ginger bar I need to look elsewhere for a cheaper ginger fix. I haven't reviewed that variety yet, but I will in the future. Today in consideration is Chocolove's 65% dark chocolate with crystallized ginger bits.

Crystallized ginger, unless I am mistaken, is shaved ginger pieces that have been cooked in a sugar syrup and then coated with sugar crystals. This bar would make for my first exposure to it -- and a disappointing exposure at that. Unfortunately, this bar fails on virtually every aspect that is significant to a chocolate bar, and it makes for nothing but an easily forgettable experience.

Unlike most chocolate varieties I come across, this bar actually has a description of what type of flavor profile to expect when biting in. I like this, as it helps me greatly in identifying the various attributes I'm experiencing, sometimes even going so far as to make me even more sensitive to them, and allows for me to judge whether my experience matches the advertisement or not. The packaging advertises a tangy dark chocolate with a spicy-hot ginger finish. I perceived none of that. This chocolate is hardly tangy; rather it comes off as run-of-the-mill sweetened chocolate. And the ginger is worse than not being hot or spicy: it isn't noticeable at all! I was surprised on this point since the crystallized pieces are incorporated in rather gratuitous portions. Not even when I licked a ginger piece directly could I get any sort of ginger impression from it, so the chocolate too thoroughly dominates the flavor profile while being a very bland player itself. The wrapper doesn't deliver on its promise: this bar is un-unique, unimpressionable, and hardly worth contemplation.

The only hint of ginger I could come across is in the bar's aroma, and even at that it's way too subtle. Beyond the dominating cocoa notes (or "song") there is a excruciatingly small hint of the spicy heat of ginger, but the way it combines with the chocolate makes for a funky combination and leaves me with the impression that this is a, well, stinky bar. Yes, it stinks. I practically had to inhale the bar to even detect this small attribute.

Its mouthfeel is either equal to or worse than the boring flavor profile. The chocolate is soft without being creamy and firm without being crunchy, so the end result is simply a bar that breaks apart without any pleasurable attributes. The ginger pieces do add a crispiness what with the sugar crystals, but given that these pieces are integrated in such a boring chocolate makes it so the crispiness is entirely unappreciable. Boring, boring, boring!

Even the aesthetics are boring. I like the direction the company has chosen in regards to making their bars look like love letters, but the bland pea green is way too assertive on the packaging and so makes the letter attributes, such as the stamp, look like they just so happened to be placed there rather than put there intentionally and purposefully. The poem inside seems cheesy and common. The very least I can give them is that they use gold foil, though still not a very pretty one.

The bar itself has nice qualities in abstract, but doesn't live up to them in practice. Instead of squares the pieces are dome-shaped, which makes for a nice pillow appearance and easy handling, with the symbol of a heart on each one. I like the hearts, but they're impressed into the chocolate way too shallowly and are thus difficult to see. I wouldn't be surprised to hear if some people didn't even notice there were hearts on it at all. Furthermore, while the bar was undamaged, the wrapper indicates a mess: chocolate shards and "dust" everywhere!

This bar is simply not worthwhile. The flavor profile is boring, run-of-the-mill, and doesn't deliver on its ginger promise; the smell is somewhat funky, the mouthfeel is boring, and the packaging is oversimplified. To consider nutrition, this bar has 11 grams of sugar per serving, which leads to 33 grams per bar, and that is, in my opinion, horrendous! Pass this variety up. New Tree's version is a world above this, so I must get to reviewing it soon so that you'll be convinced as well. It may be a tad bit pricey, but my gosh does it deliver!

This makes for two varieties of Chocolove that I have given poor reviews for now, the first one being the 77% cocoa variety. As such, I hold a particularly low opinion of the Chocolove company as a whole. Sure, I may have exhausted their present store of varieties that qualify for review on this site, but that doesn't mean it will stay static at that. Unless someone can enthusiastically convince me that some new product of theirs is a must-try for review, I will from now on bar Chocolove from consideration on this blog. It's not even worth snacking on, so seek chocolate satisfaction elsewhere.

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