Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Review: Equal Exchange's 80%

Equal Exchange's 80% Panama dark chocolate was amongst those I picked while paralyzed in Whole Foods' humongous chocolate section in Dallas. It took me nearly a half hour to decide what to pick, but the very simple and dominant blue wrapper of Equal Exchange stuck out to me, eventually persevering in my sight long enough to come home with me. This company is seemingly more keen on promoting its fair trade practices than some other participants I've seen, such as Endangered Species. This bar also happens to be soy-free in its ingredients and list of possible trace elements, so those meticulously trying to avoid soy should appreciate that.

The wrapper protecting the bar weirds me out. Instead of a foil, the bar is enclosed entirely in some kind of white plastic that feels like slippery paper. Against the norm certainly, but I guess it's practical for protecting it against foreign flavors and scents. At least it's not like the foils that come with New Tree's large bars, for I can't open one of those without breaking it.

Unwrapped, the smell is very fruity and earthy, and the flavor profile starts with a satisfying hit of sweet cacao, lasting up until the middle where it begins to quiet down to a fruity finish and ends with a very earthy chocolate aftertaste. It's crunchy and takes a while to melt, but at least it melts. The surface has a streaky shine, but is cleanly formed without notable defects like shatters or smudges, and has a perfect snap.

It's not very unique when considering the whole range of offerings, but perfectly satisfying for a chocolate fix, worthy of being ranked with the likes of Lindt's 90%, Green & Black's 85%, and all that. If I came across it again I'd absolutely consider purchasing and eating it again. Definitely recommend.

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