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Taste test: dark chocolate candy bars

As the claims of health benefits from dark chocolate rise, so do the numbers of candy bars on grocery store shelves. We wanted to know: At what point do these dark chocolate bars start tasting like baking chocolate? Our judges tried eight candy bars — all boasting at least 70 percent cocoa. The higher percentage of cocoa mass usually means more intense color and taste. Similarly, the higher the amount of cocoa, the less sugar the chocolate should contain. Four stood out as tasty treats even without the healthy flavonoids or antioxidants they might provide. — Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/serving Chocolove

1 ounce

Ghirardelli

1.5 ounce

Godiva

1.5 ounce

Lindt

1.5 ounce

Calories Fat/Fiber 160

12g / 4g

210

14g / 2g

230

14g / 4g

160

14g / 0g

Judges' comments All four judges enjoyed this candy bar that was wrapped like a love letter. One said it looked like a Dove bar, dark and carved with hearts. Another judge said she would buy it for Valentine's Day. Panelists detected a slight nutty flavor and especially liked this candy because it did not leave a bitter aftertaste. While this bar started out plenty bitter, it ended up being very creamy. Judges thought they wouldn't like it at first bite, but all four ended up being pleased with the final taste. "I'm not sure why it is, but the bitter and sweetness seems to balance out," said one judge. This chocolate was the darkest of the samples. It was smooth and glossy and had a bit of a fruity flavor "on the finish," according to one panelist. Another described the taste as coconut. She said it should be served at restaurants. "This would be perfect for dipping really big strawberries," said another. Lindt's dark chocolate had a crunch or snap to the texture. It came in pretty little squares that judges said would look great on a dessert platter. "This is intensely rich and deeply chocolate but is still not bitter," said one judge.
Shopping information $3.49 for a 3.2-ounce bar from Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg $2.69 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix $3.49 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix $2.39 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix
Product/serving Chocolove

1 ounce

Ghirardelli

1.5 ounce

Godiva

1.5 ounce

Lindt

1.5 ounce

Calories Fat/Fiber 160

12g / 4g

210

14g / 2g

230

14g / 4g

160

14g / 0g

Judges' comments All four judges enjoyed this candy bar that was wrapped like a love letter. One said it looked like a Dove bar, dark and carved with hearts. Another judge said she would buy it for Valentine's Day. Panelists detected a slight nutty flavor and especially liked this candy because it did not leave a bitter aftertaste. While this bar started out plenty bitter, it ended up being very creamy. Judges thought they wouldn't like it at first bite, but all four ended up being pleased with the final taste. "I'm not sure why it is, but the bitter and sweetness seems to balance out," said one judge. This chocolate was the darkest of the samples. It was smooth and glossy and had a bit of a fruity flavor "on the finish," according to one panelist. Another described the taste as coconut. She said it should be served at restaurants. "This would be perfect for dipping really big strawberries," said another. Lindt's dark chocolate had a crunch or snap to the texture. It came in pretty little squares that judges said would look great on a dessert platter. "This is intensely rich and deeply chocolate but is still not bitter," said one judge.
Shopping information $3.49 for a 3.2-ounce bar from Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg $2.69 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix $3.49 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix $2.39 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Publix

ALSO SAMPLED: Valor ($2.99 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Mazzaro's); Scharffen Berger ($4.59 for a 3-ounce bar from Mazzaro's); Green & Black's Organic ($4.59 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Mazzaro's); and Uganda ($2.18 for a 3.5-ounce bar from Walmart.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Times food critic Laura Reiley; and Wendy Brown and Christina Catlett, dietetic interns at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System. All foods were tasted blind.

Taste test: dark chocolate candy bars 12/18/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2009 3:30am]

    

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