Tuesday, May 3, 2011

{ Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Taste Test }

In our house we don't do dessert unless we make it ourselves, meaning no store bought desserts. If we want to indulge we have to do the time and make or bake it, except when it comes to dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is our "thang" if you will. We're totally cliche, we like a glass of wine with dinner and then a piece or two of dark chocolate from a bar afterwards. It totally quenches my sweet tooth, which is really annoying when I have a dessert craving and I'm smart enough to avoid the crisis by eating a small amount of dark chocolate. You know what I'm talking about, when your heart and stomach are saying, "Binge!" But your head and pants are telling you, "Be smart, just eat the chocolate it'll do the trick." All that to say, dark chocolate is a nightly necessity in our house.

Typically we prefer Chocolate Santander 70% cacao Colombian Single Origin Dark Chocolate from Top Foods. It was $2.99 a bar when I originally started buying it, but recently it rose in price to $3.29 a bar. Now I know that that sounds pricey, but remember a bar serves our family for almost a week- yes our 1 and 3 year old daughters go ape for 70% cacao dark chocolate. Unfortunately, it's unfortunate because it's sold everywhere, we're not fans of Lindt anymore, especially with their "new recipe." So if I'm at Safeway, I don't buy chocolate. If I'm at Target and we're hard up for dark chocolate in the house, I'll do Black&Green; but I prefer Santander from Top Foods.

This week, I forgot to buy more chocolate when I grocery shopped at Top Foods. So when I went to Trader Joe's today, I thought that I'd get some dark chocolate for the week. In the past I've bought their 3 pack of bars, but I'm not really a fan of it so I thought that I'd check out what other options they had. Here's the booty I found:

I came out with Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate 73% Super Dark Organic ($1.99), Trader Joe's Swiss 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate ($1.99), Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao ($2.99) and Trader Joe's Fair Trade Swiss Dark Chocolate 71% Cacao ($1.99). At first my plan was just to try them all over the next few weeks and decide which one I would continue to purchase from Trader Joe's in the future; but then I thought to myself, I should do a taste test for my blog! So that's what we did and now I can save all you loyal followers, all six of you - wink wink, from having to buy and try all of these yourselves should you want to buy dark chocolate from Trader Joe's. So here we go!

Texture: Gritty or powdery almost dry, very cacao like in texture. Flavor: not well blended, sharp, not as well rounded on the pallet as the others, has a hint of the taste of chocolate decadence flour-less cake. It has a complex flavor with fruity notes.
On a scale of 1-10, Kyle gave this a 6 and I gave it a 6.5. I liked the flavor but not the texture.

Texture: smooth from the start. Flavor: simple but intensely chocolate. This bar is slighty more interesting in flavor than the Valrhona, but the texture and balance isn’t as good. Nothing really sets this bar apart from any other. Kyle gave it a 5.5 and I gave it a 5. It was probably my least favorite.

Texture: starts out like Lindt, a little waxy in texture but quickly becomes creamy in your mouth. It has a really nice finish. Flavor: very cocoa-y with a brownie, fudgie finish. It's nothing fancy, but it hints at flavors of vanilla and almond. Kyle and I both gave this bar a 7. This was my favorite bar.

Texture: This bar has a nice balanced texture start to finish. Flavor: chocolatey with fruity notes. The flavor was well balanced, no one flavor stuck out. This bar is nothing special, but it is good chocolate. Kyle gave this bar a 7 and I gave it a 6.  Because it wasn't anything super special, the $1 more that it costs than the other bars comes into affect when I decide which bar to buy.

With all of that in mind, should I need to buy my chocolate at Trader Joe's in the future I will definitely be buying the Fair Trade bar. However, when tested against our tried and true favorite Santander none of these bars even come close. So in my perfect world I would always remember to buy it when I'm at Top Foods. Here's what it looks like and here's what we like about it:

Texture: smooth start to finish. Flavor: Strong coffee and amaretto flavors. This bar is complex and delicious, we both give it a 9 and highly recommend that you give it a try should you come across it.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed reading about the chocolate as much as we enjoyed tasting it. I also hope that our comments help you to choose the right Trader Joe's bar for yourself.  

Maybe dark chocolate will be your family's new nightly dessert too. Eat up and enjoy!


Off The Cuff Cooking said...

Thanks for the tips! I like to buy a variety and try them out, too. I must admit, that I really do love the Lindt dark chocolate with orange or pear chunks inside... but otherwise, I have not ever really gone on a scientific expedition for chocolate like you just did!

Off The Cuff Cooking said...

Well, I mean, I LOVE good chocolate -- I'm always trying different types out. What I meant is that I have never stopped to think about what I did or didn't like about different ones.

Jessica Winter said...

Niether have we Jeanette, this was a first :); but we do it with wine and off handed with a piece of chocolate or some coffee so I thought, what the hey! Let's go nuts. :)

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