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: