It's spring, that time of year when many women (and men? is this universal?) start knocking off the sweets in a last-ditch effort to lose a few pounds before swimsuit season officially begins. Or so I'm told. Happily, no such impulse has come over me as of yet. Here are seven dark chocolate bars, listed in order of my preference from outstanding right on down through disgusting, along with the usual random perfume recommendations because this is a PERFUME blog.
Starting out with awesome! eat three!, we've got the Calindia bar by Vosges (cardamom, organic walnuts, dried plums dark chocolate, see image above). This doesn't have quite the same rush of cardamom as Dolfin's Noir Cardamome, but it's still a generously spiced bar. The walnuts and plums are in small pieces and they're relatively sparse, so the cardamom is the predominant flavoring and the nuts and fruits provide texture and sweetness, respectively, as much as anything else. The pretentious "How to enjoy an exotic candy bar" screed on the back of every Vosges bar annoys me to no end ("Place a small piece of chocolate on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth", c'mon, give me a break), but I'll forgive them so long as they keep making chocolate bars this good. The matching perfume: Nelly Rodi Scent Factory Cardamome.
I have never eaten passion fruit (known as maracuya in much of South America), but if Santander's Passion Fruit is any indication, I need to. This has a fabulously tart fruity flavor and a nice crunch, and if I didn't keep devouring the bars at my desk, I'd melt some to pour over vanilla ice cream. Wonderful. Santander also makes a pineapple bar, and it is fine but didn't wow me nearly as much as this one did. To wear while eating: Prescriptives Calyx.
Fans of your basic chocolate/nut combinations will want to try Chuao Chocolatier's Caracas bar (dark chocolate with almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios). It's a nice bar, with good quality chocolate and lots of nuts, but I can't make myself love it. In chocolate as with perfumes, perhaps, I want a little bit of weird, so I'll stick with their nutmeg-y Chinita Nibs instead. But this one is awfully good, and I feel guilty for not liking it better. Matching perfume: Boucheron Miss Boucheron, which I also ought to like better than I do.
I love Mounds bars, but they're awfully sweet, and let's face it, Hershey's is not using what you'd call high quality chocolate in their Mounds bars. So I was excited to see the Playa del Coco bar from Seeds of Change in my local grocery store's organic section. Playa del Coco blends dark chocolate with coconut and coconut extract. It's nice, but ...really, it's still way too sweet, and the chocolate itself just isn't quite fabulous enough to compete with other high end bars on the market. Extra points for easy availability, organicness (that isn't a word, is it?) and Seeds of Change's commitment to sustainable agriculture, but I don't think I'd buy it again. If anyone has tried any of their other bars, please comment. Matching perfume: Comptoir Sud Pacifique Coco Extreme, perhaps.
I do hope that someone who knows way more about chocolate than I do will comment on Hachez. Perhaps they're wonderful, but the three bars I've tried have not won me over. The Cocoa d'Arriba Mango & Chili bar has a nice mixture of hot spice and tart fruit, and is my favorite of the three. Their Cocoa d'Arriba Blackberry & Cocoa Nibs sounded marvelous, but it has an oddly bitter, almost chalky aftertaste that I find unpleasant. Their Cocoa d'Arriba Strawberry & Pepper sounded even more marvelous still, but it is the only chocolate bar I've ever thrown away after one bite. You can read a much more positive review at chocablog, and I should note that all of the Hachez bars are 77% cacao, a higher pecentage than any of the other bars under consideration here today. Perhaps that is just more chocolate than I can stand. Matching perfume: Serge Lutens Borneo 1834.
More chocolate ravings: Chocolates & perfumes, part 1 ~ Dolfin, Chocolates & perfumes, part 2 ~ coffee, cacao nibs.