Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter: The final tasting

Dear Diary, it is Day 31 of my month "unsweetened". After today, I no longer have to follow any rules about how sweet my chocolate is. Yay! But for now, I have one last extra bitter tasting...

Today I received one last shipment of chocolate.  In the shipment was a Costa Rica 91% Cacao chocolate bar by Theo.  And yesterday I happened to find a Lindt Excellence 90% in a store outside of my town (I forgot that Lindt had a 90%.  Had I remembered, I would not have jumped right up to their 99% two weeks ago!).  And since it is the final day of January, I have just enough time for one last comparative tasting of very bitter chocolate in the over 90% range. So since my month of going "dark and bitter" is literally almost over, these two chocolate bars made it in just in the nick of time, because I do not think I will be tasting 90%+ dark chocolate for several months at least.  Come tomorrow, I need a sugar fix!

I believe this is my first-ever tasting of Theo Chocolate. According to their packaging and their website, this bean-to-bar American chocolate maker believes in doing good things for the environment and for the Costa Rican cacao farmers that they purchase their beans from. In addition, they believe in preserving ecosystems, particularly in protecting the survival of birds and other wildlife. So I had decided that I liked their chocolate even before I had tasted it.

Theo`s 91% chocolate bar has a strong, bold smell: spicy, fruity and rustic all at the same time. There is a strong overall organic smell about it as well. The chocolate texture is very smooth and the flavour is rustic and strong, but unfortunately, there is also a hint of mold flavour.  The chocolate bar is just fine and well within expiry, so the mold flavour likely comes from a moldy bean (s) in the batch when the chocolate was made.  I do not get upset about this sort of flaw though, since I have found the same mold flavour in a Michel Cluizel bar before and it was just a problem specific to that bar or batch of bars. I am still enthusiastic about tasting other Theo chocolate bars.

The Lindt Excellence 90% chocolate bar did not make me cringe like Lindt's 99% bar did.  However, I find there is far too much vanilla in it, which is overpowering the chocolate flavour. And I would rather eat chocolate with chocolate flavour.  However, I am very happy that Lindt used a natural Bourbon vanilla flavouring, rather than vanillin or other artificial flavouring. And of course, their chocolate is as smooth as ever.

To compare Lindt's 90% chocolate bar to Theo's 91% bar, I would have preferred the overall flavour of Theo's to the  Lindt bar, if it had not been for the mold flavour.

What is interesting after tasting only 99% and 100% dark chocolate for the last week, I can now taste the sugar in the 90% bars.  That little difference in the bitterness level seems like a big difference to me now.  I could not really taste the sweetness in dark chocolate (70% and over) before as I can now.  So I find this an interesting change for me.

Well, this is the last day of my month 'unsweetened' and I am a little bit sad that it is over.  It does not mean that I will stop tasting very dark chocolate, but it does mean that I have freedom of choice as of tomorrow.  And since I love 70% dark chocolate, I think I will break open a bar tomorrow, maybe even a Theo Chocolate bar.

I still have some recipes and a tasting of unsweetened baking chocolate that I did a few days ago to write about this week. After that, it will be back to all sorts of chocolate, including milk, dark, white and whatever kinds I can get my hands on!

Here are the package details from the two chocolate bars that I tasted today:

Lindt Excellence 90%, 100g 3.5oz)
Lindt & Sprungli SAS (France), imported by Lindt & Sprungli (Canada) Inc.
Ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa, sugar, natural bourbon vanilla bean.  May contain traces of peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, milk and soya lecithin.

Theo Costa Rica 91% Cacao Pure Dark Chocolate, 3 oz (84g)
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, WA, USA)
Ingredients: cocoa beans (Costa Rica)*+, sugar*+, cocoa*+, ground vanilla bean*.
*Organic +Fair Trade Certified "Suitable for vegans.  Manufactured on shared equipment with products containing milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts & other nuts.


  1. Great information. I as a chocolate lover will want to remember that feeling when I always satisfy my craving in chocolate.

  2. I’ve noticed a mold flavor in almost every Theo bar I’ve eaten - even this one now that my husband bought and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s such a bummer because everything else about their brand is fantastic.

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