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Friday, December 16, 2011
Chocolate from Romania? Cranberries and Dark Chocolate by HEIDI
The reason why I am talking about Romanian chocolate today is because last week I found HEIDI, a brand of chocolate bars made in Romania. The company employs 300 people and they claim to be existent in "35 markets throughout six continents" around the world, so they have actually taken their Romanian chocolate rather far. And although this chocolate is made in Romania, the company was started by a "Swiss chocolate visionary" and "Swiss imported ingredients" were used to create their first chocolate products. But regardless, their company origins are in Romania, and they were actually one of the top four players in the Romanian chocolate market (source: http://www.grapefruit.ro/resources/articles/sweet_talk/en/) in 2005, which was a limited - but growing - market (at least it was in 2005; it looks like some of the other top players have been purchased or merged). So although the Romanian chocolate manufacturing market is not large, it does exist and there are a few chocolate brands, including HEIDI, working hard to put it on the map.
HEIDI is considered a "premium" brand within its market, as opposed to other Swiss manufacturers who target the budget/low cost segment. And based on its packaging, communications program and flavours of chocolate, they are certainly positioning themselves that way.
So how does this Romanian chocolate stack up to other chocolate? Well, I purchased two HEIDI bars last week and finally got around to opening and tasting one today, which was their Dark Cranberry chocolate bar with 50% cocoa solids. I like the delicate nature of the bar. The pieces that you can break apart are all very thin, which makes it great for tasting the chocolate because each piece melts quicker in your mouth. The only problem I find with this is: because the bar is so thin, you are actually getting only 80 grams of chocolate in a package that is the same size as most 100 gram chocolate bars. So it seems to me like it is a bit of a fooler.
As for the flavour, although I am not usually a fan of chocolate bars with berries or fruit in it (unless the berry is raspberry, or the fruit or berry is mixed with chocolate in a pie, which is a whole other story!), the cranberry flavour is subtle and the pieces are small, so it is actually quite nice. You taste the cranberry with the first bite, then the chocolate flavour comes on more as you continue to eat.
WARNING TO THOSE WHO READ LABELS: Vanilla extract is listed on the ingredients list, but so is artificial flavour. What's confusing is: the HEIDI website specifically states that the chocolate bars are made with "100% natural ingredients". So I peeled back the sticky nutrition label that was placed on the product (I am assuming by the company that imported the product) to meet Canadian labelling standards, and it does not say "artificial flavour" in the English ingredients list. It says: "flavors: natural vanilla extract and cranberry". So always be warned that an additional label stuck over top of the one originally printed on the package may not be listing the same ingredients as the original. I have found this to be the case on many occasions.
Overall, I personally felt the chocolate bar was "okay". BUT that is my personal opinion based on my own likes/dislikes of specific flavours. If you are the type of person who likes cranberry and other berry flavoured chocolate, you might really like this chocolate bar. And somehow I still ate half the bar in a matter of minutes, so it must have been better than 'okay'. It was those thin, delicate pieces that got me!
I also bought a HEIDI Extreme Dark 85% bar that I plan to taste in January. It does not list artificial flavour, and it too is 80 grams, so the pieces are just as fine and thin, so I am looking forward to tasting it.
I bought both chocolate bars at an Ontario Bulk Barn for $2.99 (CAD). If you are looking for details on where to buy a HEIDI chocolate bar in your area, check out their website and the details I took from the packaging below:
HEIDI Dark Cranberry, 80g
S.C. HEIDI CHOCOLAT S.A. (Romania)
Made in Romania (Imported to Canada by Euro-Excellence Inc., Quebec, Canada)
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cranberry pieces 1.5%, soya lecithin, vanilla extract, artificial flavour. Cocoa solids 50% minimum in chocolate.