Friday, January 21, 2011

Chocolate Review: Endangered Species' 72% Hazelnut Toffee

Toffee: Yet another confection which I haven't tried, but have been introduced to through chocolate. By paleo standards it hardly seems offensive, as its basic ingredients are butter, sugar, and nuts. Given the salty descriptions I've read about this apparently delectable treat, I was more than salivating at the chance of trying Endangered Species' 72% dark chocolate with hazelnut toffee bits. I'm aware that Endangered Species also sells a thicker version that comes in individual pieces, and I'm intrigued enough to want to buy some.

For the most part, this bar is actually disappointing, but I think it has the potential to become something good. The flavor profile is dominated by sugar and milk, which overrides the toffee. The start is very powerfully milky, and it only subtly touches upon the toffee notes in the middle, with an even subtler salty finish. There might be a nutty aftertaste just barely on the breath, but it's much too weak to be identified as hazelnuts.

The inner flesh of the bar revealed the problem. Inside the chocolate the toffee pieces can be spotted like little glassy jewels or polished rocks trapped in the chocolate, and there's so few of them. The ratio of chocolate to toffee sets things way too much in favor of the chocolate and drowns out the other players. I can still taste the toffee and salt even though the notes were too weak to invoke pleasure, so I think my craving could be a sign that if these players were just strengthened a little bit the bar would be awesome. Simply: It just needs more toffee, either in the quantity of the bits or as a filled center. The filled center might be a viable choice, since it would allow for a concentration of flavor. Whatever the case, I hope this bar does get its potential fully brought out.

As always, the bar is very attractive. The top is extremely smooth, shiny, black as coffee, and reflective, almost as if it were hand-polished, and the bottom is a twist to ES' usual standards by being bumpy, slightly lighter in tone, and wavy in its shine. Like with Dagoba's Conacado, there are streaks and varying amounts of shine intensity, only in this case it seems to be a coherent pattern, like horizontal rows of clouds being tossed apart by the wind. Full-credit, as always for ES, in the aesthetic realm.

The aroma is very simple in it primarily being sweetened, milky cocoa, though there is an odd attribute of spice in it. I don't mean spice as in herbs and spices, but spice as in heat. The toffee nuts seem to give this bar a sense of it being warm, as if heat were an individual aroma manifest in its own matter. It's nice, but just far too simple.

I barely enjoyed this variety, but the salty taste I get in my mouth while thinking about it makes me conclude it isn't entirely worth dismissing. The toffee is too far pushed off the stage, but with greater inclusion I think the balance could be set right and this would be a wonderfully buttery and nutty experience. Until then, this chocolate remains largely chocolate with only "suggestions" of something else. I do hope ES considers modifying their recipe, for the potential for greatness is there. Otherwise: This bar is kind of bland, but is at least worth tasting. I'll add the Coexist pieces to my wish list and consider it in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reviewing our 72% Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee Bar. As always, we appreciate and value your thoughtful, honest musings. For this chocolate bar, our toffee is ground relatively small in order to smoothly flow through our inclusion feeder. I shared your review with our Operations Director; he and his team will be will be reviewing the inclusion amount. He wanted me to let you know that the size of the toffee bits will vary from batch to batch due to the hand-grinding method.

    Since you were intrigued by the combination of dark chocolate and toffee, I implore you to seek out Coexist Toffee - chunky bites of buttery toffee drenched in 72% dark chocolate. Coexist allows the toffee to be the star...I'm pretty confident you will love it!

    -Monica Erskine
    Endangered Species Chocolate


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