Monday, June 16, 2014

Battle of the 100s: Italy versus France! Venchi versus Les Chocolats de Pauline

If you are one of the few people who like your chocolate pure and completely unsweetened, then you know that it is not easy to find good quality 100% chocolate bars while casually out shopping. You have to know where to shop and likely live in a large city, or you shop for your 100% chocolate online.

I found two chocolate bars, Venchi 100% and Les Chocolats de Pauline 100%, that seemed to be perfect for comparison for the following reasons:
  • Both chocolate bars have 100% cocoa solids (cacao)
  • Both are certified as Organic
  • Both chocolate bars are in the same size (70 grams or 2.46 oz each)
  • Neither has soy lecithin
So the real difference came down to aroma and taste. And that is where they differed immensely.

The Venchi was very palatable for a 100% chocolate - it had a brightness to it, with a bit of floral and fruit flavours (red grape, blueberries) with a woody and smoky aftertaste. It just melted in my mouth and had the feel of a high cocoa-butter chocolate. The chocolate is organic and the beans are from Ecuador (read more about Venchi's organic project in Ecuador here), and Venchi is a well-known brand in the world of fine chocolate.

The Les Chocolats de Pauline bar was harder to palate. It was strong and bitter with a floral and cocoa smell. It was very smooth and had a woody or smoke aftertaste, but it was also acidic. It was like the darkest of a dark espresso, and it left that sort of lingering taste.

And although I was not thrilled with the taste of this 100% dark chocolate, I have to say that all of Les Chocolats de Pauline other products look amazing, and I am excited to someday try all of them.

Les Chocolats de Pauline is dedicated to chocolate maker's (Jean-Michel Mortreau) daughter. He is dedicated to making 'pure' organic chocolate in small batches with real cocoa butter, no soy lecithin and with no added vegetable fats. You can read more of the story here.

Other comparisons between these two chocolate bars:
  • French (Pauline) vs Italian (Venchi) chocolate
  • Les Chocolats de Pauline advertises the organic & compostable nature of their packaging.
  • Les Chocolats de Pauline lists as having added cocoa butter, Venchi simply lists cacao mass from a specified origin (Ecuador), no origin specified on Les Chocolats de Pauline.

So what is the verdict?  If you are planning to eat your 100% dark chocolate straight up, I'd go for the Venchi bar.  If you want to make a rich hot or cold chocolate drink with an uninfluenced and true chocolaty flavour, use Les Chocolats de Pauline 100% bar for that. I made a real hot chocolate with cream, agave, vanilla beans, milk and about an ounce of melted Les Chocolats de Pauline NOIR 100% chocolate and it was delicious.  I also made an iced drink with the same ingredients, but with an espresso added for a boost of energy. 


I found both bars at McEwans specialty food store in Toronto, Ontario, among a fantastic selection of imported chocolate bars.

To learn about other 100% dark chocolate bars, see the following articles:  Pralus vs Bonnat 100%Soma Arcana 100%, and Soma Arcana 100% versus Chuao Arcana 100%.
For 99% cacao dark chocolate bars, click here.
Venchi Biologico (Organic) 100% Cacao Dark Chocolate, 70g (2.46oz)
Venchi S.p.A. (Made in Italy)
Ingredients: Organic Ecuador Cocoa Mass. May contain traces of nuts and milk.
"Gluten Free", also listed as: Cacao fino aromatic Criollo Blanco e nacional Amendolado (white fine aroma criollo beans)
Certified organic by: CCPB S.r.l.

Les Chocolats de Pauline NOIR 100% Cacao san sucre Organic Chocolate, 70g (2.47oz)
Made in France
Ingredients: Cocoa mass*, Cocoa Butter*. Cocoa solids 100%.
*Prganic product, certified by Qualité-France SAS
May contain: tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, egg, wheat and/or all their derivatives.

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