Sunday, January 9, 2011

Need portion-controlled milk chocolate? Starbucks and Valor can help.

I've tasted Starbucks-branded chocolate bars before, as you may have read in a previous post, but I have never really tried their milk chocolate. So when I recently visited a Starbucks cafe, I impulsively purchased their newest milk chocolate bar.  It only cost me $1.95 and it claimed to be "sourced at origin and artisan-crafted". After reading the ingredients list and seeing that the chocolate was all natural, and given the suggestion that it was made from single-origin beans, I decided to try it.  In the same week, I had also found a Valor Chocolates Milk Chocolate bar in a similar one-serving, snack-sized package size (45 grams).  I thought it would be great to taste these two chocolate bars and compare them today.

I tried the Starbucks Milk Chocolate bar first and fell in love instantly.  There is a nice strong flavour to this bar, and it has that distinct taste of origin chocolate.  The real vanilla is subtle and the chocolate flavour pronounced.  What's more, it has that reminiscent flavour of couverture chocolate, as it seems much smoother and creamier than your average milk chocolate bar, and although the package does not specify, it is clear this milk chocolate bar has a higher percentage of cacao solids than most other commercially sold milk chocolate. Its portion-controlled size is also excellent for a daily milk chocolate snack, if that's what you are into.  As you can tell, I haven't found anything wrong with this chocolate bar!  In fact, I highly recommend it.
Before I even tasted the Valor Milk Chocolate bar, I caught a wiff of the strong smell of artificial flavouring.  Although it soured my image of the chocolate, it did not affect the flavour of the chocolate as much as I thought it would.  The chocolate tastes fine, although there is no distinct flavours lke origin chocolate has. The only problem with this bar is the texture.  It is hard and crispy and lacks the smoothness and creaminess that the Starbucks Milk Chocolate bar has.  On the up side, at 45 grams per package, it likely won't break your healthy eating plan.  Also, the ingredients are fairly simple, with no added oils or other things to replace the real cocoa butter in the chocolate that some commercial milk chocolate manufacturers add.

Clearly the Valor Milk Chocolate bar was developed for more commercial sales, and for people who like plain milk chocolate at a reasonable price (I paid $1.69 CAD for it at Homesense).  It was not intended as a tasting bar for those who want to decipher the individual flavours in the cacao beans. You would have better luck with the Starbucks Milk Chocolate bar if you are into proper cacao tastings.

So today Starbucks has won me over.  If you read my post on their Via chocolate bar, I was not as impressed, but I am back on the Starbucks chocolate bandwagon.  So the next time you need your Starbucks coffee fix, keep an eye out for this great milk chocolate treat right next to the cash register.

Here is further information (taken from the packaging) on the two chocolate bars that I tasted today:

Starbucks(r) Milk Chocolate, 34 grams
"Sourced at origin, artisan-crafted."
Manufactured by TCHO exclusively for Starbucks Coffee Company, Seattle, WA, USA
Ingredients: cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cacao beans, skim milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla.  May contain traces of tree nuts.

VALOR Chocolates Milk Chocolate, 45 grams
Manufactured by: CHOCOLATES VALOR, S.A. (Spain) and
(Imported to the USA by Valor Chocolates USA, Miami, Florida)
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk, whey, soy lecithin, artificial flavour.  may contain tree nuts.


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