So March (of Perfume Posse) and I are talking about chocolate this weekend. She wrote about texture issues with chocolate bars yesterday; today I'm writing about citrus-flavored chocolate bars.
March started off by pointing out that she knows even less about chocolate than perfume. I'm pretty sure I've already come clean on that score, but it never hurts to repeat: I know absolutely zip about chocolate. Those single-origin estate chocolates that true chocophiles pay a premium for hold no interest for me. What I want is simple: a dark chocolate (around 60% cocoa) bar with something fun added. That's not quite the chocophile's version of the sweet generic fruity florals I turn my nose up at around here, but I'm guessing it's close.
Chocolate bars with orange peel
There is nothing I like better than a smooth dark chocolate bar with chunks of orange peel. The perfect bar is hard to find though. There has to be enough peel to make the bar chewy and to give it a nice orange flavor, but not so much flavor that it overwhelms the chocolate. Fauchon's Noir aux écorces d'orange confites bar wasn't perfect, but it was close. I used to buy them at Neiman Marcus, but my local store doesn't carry Fauchon now so I'm on the prowl. Here are a few of my latest attempts:
The Marquise de Sévigné Noir Ecorces d'Oranges bar I ate tasted stale despite the inner foil wrapper and the fact that I purchased and ate it well before the expiration date. Of course, this is quite possibly no fault of the Marquise de Sivigne company, but the chocolate did not taste good, and the pieces of orange peel were tiny and not at all chewy. I can't remember what I paid for it, which is probably just as well.
Côte d'Or Noir Orange (dark chocolate with orange chocolate-truffle and pieces of candied orange zest) is nice but not perfect. It's 64% cocoa, but because of the truffle filling it's a bit sweeter than I like, and the pieces of orange peel are just too small and too scarce: most of the orange flavor seems to be coming from "orange flavor" and not peel. Still, it's not a bad bar, and it gets extra points for being very reasonably priced (usually around $3). Smart Tarzhay (that's Target, for those of you who don't speak French) used to carry Côte d'Or but I don't know if they still do.
Chocolove's Orange Peel in Dark Chocolate is also not perfect, but it's much better — lots of tiny pieces of peel give it a nice chewiness, and it's sweet but not overly so. I wish the chocolate was a bit darker (this is a 55% bar) and it's surprisingly un-creamy. Almost, but not quite, right. Chocolove is reasonably easy to find and not outrageously priced, so those are pluses. March loves this one too.
Michel Cluizel Noir Ecorces d'Orange (shown above left) is a darker bar (60%) with higher quality chocolate: this is far and away the best-tasting chocolate of this bunch. If it had more peel, it would be perfection, but the peel is skimpy so it shares honors with the Chocolove. In the US, you'll probably pay around $5-6.
Eclipse Chocolat's Orange Peel Anise bar (61% cocoa, with star anise and aniseed; shown above right) is crunchy, and has little bits of something that stick in the teeth. I'm pretty sure that's tiny pieces of aniseed. It does have a distinct orange-y aftertaste, but I'll buy this again because I love the anise flavor, not because it qualifies as an orange peel bar — it doesn't really taste like orange peel, and I'm not even sure there's any real peel in there (the description says "orange peel infused dark chocolate"). $6 each. (And by the way, if you really love anise, try the Dolfin Noir A L'Anis Vert.)
The Valor Dark Chocolate with orange is a 70% cocoa bar, so it's a harder, less creamy chocolate. The orange flavor is noticeable but subtle, and there do appear to be some pieces of peel. I'm surprised by how much I like this one since I rarely like a 70% bar — for a 70% bar it's relatively smooth and sweet. I wouldn't buy it again, but I finished the bar with no problem. Reasonably priced at $3.50.
Other citrus + chocolate combinations
The Dagoba Lemon Ginger is a nice bar, but the flavors are really subtle — don't go looking for massive lemon or ginger. Many chocophiles probably prefer it that way, but I'm not a true chocophile: I want some zing in my chocolate. This particular bar is also 68% cocoa, which is higher than most of Dagoba's flavored bars, and higher than I like. I also tried the Dagoba Lime, which has lime and macadamia nuts, and at 59% it's a smoother, creamier chocolate. If they'd made the macadamia nuts a little larger, I might love it, but they're tiny and the bar has almost no crunch, and is only slightly nutty.
I'll be writing more about the UK's Rococo Chocolates because they make some fabulous floral chocolate bars (including jasmine, rose and lavender) but today I'm just going to talk about their Orange & Geranium bar (65% cocoa). It isn't quite as smooth and creamy as say, the Michel Cluizel, but it's an excellent chocolate and the flavors are wonderful: it tastes like chocolate laced with scented-leaf geraniums (anyone else grow those?) plus a hint of orange. It's slightly odd but very delicious, and I have a feeling it would be wonderful melted over ice cream. These aren't all that easy to find in the US, and they're expensive: I paid $2.95 for what they call a "bee bar", which means it's quite small (20g).
And one that does not fit but I'm going to talk about it anyway
Almonds + Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate is a newer addition to the Chocolove line, and if you love nut-based bars, you must try it. It's a 55% cocoa bar, and something about the (plentiful) salty almonds makes the whole bar taste like caramel or toffee. Highly recommended.
Have a favorite chocolate + citrus bar? Or any weird bar I might not have heard of? Do comment.
Previous posts on chocolate:
More Chuao chocolate. Still no perfume.
Two fun chocolate bars. And no perfume.
Chocolates & perfumes, part 3 ~ fruits & nuts
Chocolates & perfumes, part 2 ~ coffee, cacao nibs
I always liked the chocolate and cherry combination, but alas, I can no longer eat chocolate( gives me dermatological problems I found out) and I am ok with it.
I have seen many times on the Food Network the chili and chocolate combo. Truly a versatile food!
I love chili in my chocolate bars too! And even better, when I make hot chocolate, I sprinkle Cayenne pepper on it… SO Amazing!
In Cincinnati, Skyline Chili (a local favorite) supposedly has chocolate in it. Just a rumor as the actual ingredients and recipe are closely guarded secrets but clones recipes which come close usually include chocolate.
I put cocoa in my chili, but had never thought of adding cayenne to cocoa. Thanks for the tip!
There are so many good chili + chocolate bars now: Vosges, Green & Black, Chuao Chocolatier, etc.
mmmmm. I will *not* go shopping for chocolate!!
I like Vosges.
Their cardamom truffle (seasonal flavor) is my favorite
This flavor is awesome! I buy multiples whenever I can get them.
I like the Mo’s Bacon Bar. I need to try some other flavors.
Uh oh, I had that Cluizel bar recently too! MC is probably my favourite brand of chocolate and that one was indeed fabulous. I found it just right, not too orangey, not too dark or bitter, spot on!
I’m not actually that much of a chocolate lover and only buy it very occasionally but I did get a bar today, funnily enough. I passed by a Thorntons shop and discovered that they do a range of different bars. I got milk chocolate and tonka (lovely, very subtle) and the other one that I was tempted by was orange and cardamom. I’ll probably try that next.
Oh, orange + cardamom sounds wonderful.
I love dark chocolate with some interesting stuff! My 3-year-old and I have been enjoying a Chocolove 55% dark chocolate with orange bits, really yummy! (Pretty sure I got this at Target or Walmart.) I can also recommend Ritter Sport dark choco bar with whole hazelnuts.
I used to enjoy a Green & Black’s organic Maya Gold with dark choco and spices, can’t find it around here anymore.
Maya Gold is my favorite bar from Green & Black, just wonderful.
OOh, I might have to go looking for that Maya Gold.
I usually don’t like my chocolate that is flavored, but orange peel is the exception. I’m going to try your picks!
As for weird bars: I do love Salty Dog (B. I. McElrath) which I received as a gift. Huge hunks of sea salt. I was skeptical at first–now it’s a favorite.
I love sea salt and chocolate – especially if caramel or toffee is involved, too.
Another fan of sea salt and chocolate! It sounded terrible to me, and I never would have tried it, had it not happened by accident. I thought I was grabbing a piece of chili chocolate and got the sea salt piece instead. Now I’m addicted. (And salt is even less acceptable on my diet than chocolate!) Which reminds me, I still have a piece left in the cabinet…
Love salty/sweet things, but when you’re on the old low fat, low salt, low sugar routine…well, you learn to savor small amounts
I had never heard of McElrath at all, and looks like they have several cool bars — thanks!
I have some other stuff to comment on when I get home, but here in my drawer at work is a bar by Jade Chocolates called Mahal – 72%, Indonesian cinnamon, ylang ylang and coconut. The floral aspect makes it really interesting, and it is one that a small portion is pretty satisfying.
Another company I had not heard of! There must be a gajillion artisanal chocolate companies by now. I need to try their Krakatoa bar.
Have you ever tried the Orangettes of Debauve et Gallais?
They are the best.
And the shop in Paris is worth and entire afternoon!
So is the Orange chocolate of Pierre Herme.
No — do you know if they sell in the US?
Yes they do for Debauve et Gallais.
Not Herme, yet.
I heard he is thinking about coming to New York.
Here the site for the Aiguilletes:
Chocolate AND tea – be still my beating heart! These are my kind of people.
One of my favorite orange chocolate bars is from Neuhaus. Neuhaus is a high-quality Belgian chocolate line, but you can find it in various parts of the US (in Belgium, Cote d’ Or is, believe it or not, supermarket chocolate). You might have to order online from where you are, though. They also have an Earl Grey tea bar, which my friend who lived in Paris became addicted to. She used to go all the way to Brussels to the Neuhaus shop there (in a beautiful old arcade) just to stock up (or maybe that was just an excuse for a nice day trip).
Oh, absolutely believe it — CdO is supermarket chocolate here too (that’s why they’re at Target). Will look for Neuhaus!
I just checked the Neuhaus website and they’re having an internet special – but six bars and get six free!! Just a little Sunday a.m. enabling….
When I lived in Belgium, I tried Neuhaus, it was delicious.
But my favourite Chocolatier is Wittamer, it is incredible, it isPlace du Grand Sablon in Brussels.
I met with Mr Wittamer , he was such a charming man.
His chocolates as well as anything else done in his shop is just divine.
Good golly people! My mouth was watering reading about all of these delectable sounding goodies. I don’t eat chocolate that often, and would like to keep it that way, but several things here sound so tempting.
I add some cocoa to a couple of Mexican style dishes that I make, along with cinnamon and other flavorings for a pseudo mole’ that’s pretty delicious. I don’t think they are exactly traditional mole’ dishes, but hubby & I enjoy them. That’s all I can contribute to the chocolate conversation.
I love mole though, and haven’t had good mole in a very long time.
I’m not a big citrus/chocolate fan but I’m with you on basic dark chocolate. I forgo all those artisanal efforts – just give me something smooth and dark and rich and tasty.
As I mentioned on PP, though, I rarely do bars, which is strange, given that I am a chocoholic – but I prefer my chocolate in baked goods, I think. And ganache. Lots of ganache. Which is probably why I weigh more than Godzilla.
I like bars because they last such a long time. Baked goods disappear around here very quickly! I can eat a square of chocolate, but if I eat a bite of a brownie I’m going to eat the whole darned thing.
I like pastilles! With the crunchy little candy spheres stuck on top, yummmm…
Oh, the Guittard Chocolate Nonpareils have long been a favorite of mine. The ones with the little while thingies on top.
If I’m going to eat chocolate, I want raspberry with it. Yum!
Next time I’m in a store with a good selection of chocolate, I need to find bars with sea salt. Everyone laughs at me but when I have a sweet and /or chocolate dessert, I finish it off with a potato chip or even a dash of salt. A sea salt bar sound perfect.
Raspberry jam truffles are pretty awesome too
I need to try that Chocolove Almond and Sea Salt, that sounds delicious.
This was such a fun read. I grinned at your comment about “flavors are really subtle” — I’d say this has happened several times with various flavors. Obviously it’s a matter of personal taste, but I’m surprised how “shy” some makers seem to be about throwing whatever ingredient X is in there — IMO you should be able to tell what it is (lavender, orange, coffee) without reading the label.
I just ate a Chocolove orange this evening. I realized what else I love: the aftertaste is really nice, and it lingers.
I really think it depends on what crowd they’re after? From the little time I’ve spent on some of the chocolate blogs, the true chocophiles do not like strong flavors that interfere with the chocolate flavors.
Have you tried Vosges’ Barcelona bar? Fleur de sel and hickory smoked almonds. I though I’d hate it, as it’s only 41 % cacao, but it is my one exception to the dark chocolate rule. The flakes of salt and grainy bits of almond with their savory flavor playing against sweet creamy chocolate really *works* in an unexpected balance.
Great to read about passion for chocolate and tea! It figures that many perfumistas are supreme sensualists, exploring food (and music and visual arts) as well…
I like that bar. Wish they’d do it in dark though.
mmm sea salt with chocolate sounds delicious!
No choc in this house
Maybe I’ll go spray myself with Elixir des Merveilles.
That might work
I don’t have much to add except to say that chocolate and orange is one of my favorite flavor combinations. So delicious.
And that Rococo Orange & Geranium bar really has me intrigued now! I’d love to try it sometime.
one of my friends on ~*twitter*~ lives in London and it seems like she’s always eating Rococo’s earl grey chocolate and she tweets about how delicious it is etc. Its torture for me >__<
Joe, apparently Saks used to carry Rococo but doesn’t now. That might have been the one thing that would have gotten me inside a Saks store.
I’d be afraid of SAs bursting out in laughter if I walked into our Saks and asked for the chocolate department.
I just succumbed and placed an order for Rococo chocolate (a selection “for coffee” and the sea salt bar) at missdels.com. I also bought bar of “single estate” chocolate today when I went grocery shopping. I’ve never tried any of the single source stuff, so I was curious.
Joe, now that I’ve tasted it, I’m really sorry I didn’t buy tons of the O&G bars when I had the chance.
There is a fabulous chocolate maker in Pisa Italy, De Bondt ( he is Dutch), his special aromatic bars are fabulous.
Now in France Joel Durand has salt and chocolate as well as any herbs with it ( Thyme, Lavender, Laurel etc..) he is so imaginative.
He mixes very different ingredients with his chocolate.
I had to give up sugar and white flour almost two years ago, and stick to a low-glycemic food way, but I still eat chocolate almost every day, BECAUSE I WANT TO. I can deliver a dissertation on sugar free chocolates, especially truffles, because sometimes, y’know, one needs a truffle, but for my everyday bar I eat Green & Black’s 85% dark because it’s less than 8 g of sugar a serving (I believe it’s even less than 5.) Either that or the Dark sugar free chocolate from Trader Joe’s, but maltitol makes me gassy.
All of which is to say, I’m eating those very dark chocolates you ladies are not loving, but when you don’t eat any other sugar, they’re plenty sweet enough. Green & Black’s especially has a fruity quality I really enjoy.
I bought the husband a box of single-source gourmet chocolates (pronounced gor-mett) for his birthday, but I mostly end up eating them. He likes watching me enjoy them, though, so I guess that’s OK.
And I use Ghirardelli 60% extra dark chips for baking, including the pancakes the stepthings get every other weekend. Yum. Those things are SO YUM. Big, generous dollop chips.
I’m glad you guys are mentioning chocolate! I bought tea, too, just because the Non-Blonde blogged about it. Luxury in any form is A-OK with me!
I know Chuao makes sugar-free also but can’t remember what they’re using for sweetener.
I will check it out, thanks!
not that this review is making me crave chocolate or anything….
so if I wanted the best, dark chocolate with chili/cayenne pepper which brand should I pursue? Since I now want spicy chocolate more than oxygen…..
Oh, I have one! It is made by Theo Chocolate:
Nice and spicy!
Robin, they have an orange one, too.
Thanks. I’ve only had a couple by Theo, & not the orange.
I have to say, I think Chuao Spicy Maya is my favorite… Now I wish I had one on hand, darn it.
That’s a darned good bar.
thanks! going choco-shopping…..mmmmmm can’t wait!
I’ve had the Dagoba Xocolatl, and it’s good. Here’s their blurb:
Xocolatl is inspired by ancient chocolate culture and tradition, infused with chilis, cacao nibs, maca, vanilla and nutmeg.
Are people still reading? Anyway, check out the Poco Dolco Aztec squares (pocodolce.com).
Dark chocoate, cinnamon, hot chili, and pumpkin seeds, topped with sea salt. I also like their almond and caramel squares. The ginger to me tastes weird with salt, but someone might like that…
Oh, and Burnt Caramel! That sounds quite good.
Actually, Robin, I think that preferring dark chocolate does make you a chocophile. The real equivalent of a fruity floral perfume would be something like a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. Most Americans prefer insipid milk chocolate to dark, just as most perfume buyers want insipid fruity florals. I myself always preferred dark chocolate, even as a child, long before it was trendy. Most of the time, I just want a plain, smooth dark chocolate with 60% to 70% cacao. Sometimes I can go for chocolate + something else, but the something else has to be something “normal”–orange or lemon or cherries of coffee or mint. Dark chocolate with marzipan is wonderful, as is chocolate with cinnamon.
Most Americans think Cadbury’s is actually chocolate. LOL!
Yeah, Hershey’s would be the generic fruity floral. But I’m only a step up from that: I don’t really care about single origin chocolates, and don’t like my chocolate bitter. When I read serious chocolate bars, it’s pretty clear that I’m not at that level…and don’t care to be!
I’m apparently a complete Philistine who will happily appreciate Hershey’s, Cadbury Fruit & Nut, as well as Vosges and Valrhona.
I tend toward the “good” stuff but I also think that Peanut M&Ms are their own food group.
I still eat plenty of M&Ms — and the coconut ones are AWESOME. I’m not claiming any high ground here.
i ABSOLUTELY will not read another chocolate column again….drooling drooling drooling! I can get fatter from mental calories
When I just want a quick chocolate fix, I reach for something by Lindt (there’s a new Sea Salt bar I must try soon). When I want to savour at leisure, I treat myself to some Rococo (my favourite is the Lavender). I have to be very careful with chocolate; can only have a tiny piece here and there.
Thank you for that lovely article. Scrumptious!
I have an orange Lindt that I didn’t get to in time — I’ll have to include it in the next post.
Is Rococo easy to find in London, or is it still a niche / boutique item?
It’s still a bit of a niche brand. Waitrose (which is an upmarket supermarket – it’s part of the John Lewis group) stocks one or two Rococo flavours (but not all the time, which is rather annoying). It had the cardamom dark choc the last time I looked).
If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they carry lots of goodies to try: for sheer trashyliciousness, I love Lake Champlain’s milk chocolate with sea salt and almonds. The almonds are tiny bits rather than large pieces, so it’s a pretty smooth bar with tiny bits throughout, with a sweet and salty vibe-yum!
That company makes some interesting chocolates — I need to try more.
Most of you are WAY ahead of me, probably because I let my husband do all the food shopping (he enjoys it and I don’t). I really NEED to try some of the orange peel/chocolate concoctions, the scented geranium one, and the almond/salt one. These all sound like heaven to me! Like you, Robin, I’ve always been partial to dark chocolate with big bits o’ goodies. I did have some Ritter Sport dark chocolate with marzipan with my morning coffee. I’m a marzipan freak, so I’d love to hear of any other brands that do that combo well. I have tried the See’s, and like it. Speaking of See’s, do they still do the dark chocolated enrobed orange peel and the similar one with candied ginger? Those were favorites of mine.
I don’t know about those particular See’s candies you mentioned; I’ll have to look for them. But I have to say that I never liked fruit creams until I tried See’s dark chocolate orange cream. It’s heaven. I love that I can walk into See’s and buy just one piece from the counter (and they STILL also give me a free sample of whatever they’re giving out… which makes me feel guilty). I’m a marzipan lover too, but I don’t have recommendations, other than the “Mozart kugeln” that I buy sometimes in Cost Plus.
I think they still have the ginger, but I couldn’t swear to it. I am a long-term die-hard See’s fan.
I don’t know why I’ve never tried Ritter — I do see the bars in places where I shop. Will look for the marzipan.
Recently a friend gave me a very fancy bar of milk chocolate that was flavored with orange flower water. It was like eating perfume. I could only eat one square at a time it was so intense. I don’t remember the brand right now, but could find out if people want to know…..
Oh yes, if you find out do let us know!