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Your Favorite Chocolate Bars!

Ever since Hershey destroyed my beloved Nibby Bar (It's now sold as a thin sheet instead of the thick chunk, and I sware the chocolate is lighter!) I've been on the hunt for a new favorite chocolate bar. Currently I am working through the Vosges line (Currently testing out the Barcelona and Woolloomooloo bar) , which are great. But wondered know that there is lots of new stuff out there equaly as wonderful. I like not too too dark chocolate (~40-60 range) with nuts, salt or interesting bits in it. Like I was originally going to try the Goji bar, but the guy at surfas warned us that the Goji berries are "odd". Also, I know TJs has a new line with a Nibby Bar knock off... is that any good?

Any and all suggestions for Chocolate Bars helpful! :)

--Dommy!

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  1. Santander has an excellent 70% bar of Colombian chocolate with ground espresso beans. It's a bit stronger than your specified range, but the Santander Colombian chocolate tastes sweeter than you would expect from the percentages. Usually available at Whole foods. You might also try their 65% pure chocolate bar; it has a really interesting flavor profile, almost like marshmallow.

    Domori also makes an 80% Blend No. 1 bar with ground cocoa nibs that is very good (although somewhat inconsistent in flavor), but it might be too bitter/strong for you. Available here http://www.chocosphere.com/cgi-bin/we... if you want to give it a try.

    1. I really love the Five Star Bars by Lake Champlain Chocolates.

      http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/

      They have a hazelnut one, one with fruits and nuts, a caramel one and a peanut butter one. They are splendid. The couverture is milk chocolate, though, I believe. I learned about them in the book Candy Freak.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MollyGee

        I second the vote for Five Star Bars - and I learned about them from the same source. Whole Foods in LA carries these. They are small, which is a good thing in my book. I'd make myself sick eating more than a few bites!

      2. Pierre Marcolini - Fleur de Cacao (for high end)
        Arriba Plantations - 65% (mid range)
        Chocovic - Guaranda (day to day snacking)

        1. I remembered another good chocolate bar w/ interesting inclusions: Dagoba. They even have a "nib" bar and they do dark chocolate.

          http://www.dagobachocolate.com/store/...

          1. Scharffen Berger! Toured the factory in Berkley a couple of years ago and fell in love.

            I also really like the Vosges Red Fire bar and the one with the wasabi. I've found the bars to be the best thing they make. Completely disappointed by their truffles and a few other candies.

            8 Replies
            1. re: CornflakeGirl

              I totally agree with you about Vosges. I like their Red Fire bar but wasn't pleased with their truffles and their hot cocoa was decent.

              Ditto on the Scharffen Berger bars and I love Lake Champlain's Five Star hazelnut and fruit and nut bars too! For a plain bar, Lindt's 70% cocoa bar is my kind of bar for snacking every once in a while.

              1. re: chocokitty

                I have to dissent on Scharffen Berger. We recently did a dark chocolate taste test of about 15 different chocolates from around the world (65-88% cocoa), and Scharffen Berger was one of my least favorites (the only one I liked less was Ghiradelli). In comparison to some of the other chocolates I tested, I thought it chalky, flat, and almost waxy. I'm probably not much help to the original poster who isn't so into dark chocolate. Almost everything in the 40-60% range seems to have enough sugar content to make it all taste pretty good.

                1. re: saram

                  so which ones were at the top of your list from your tasting?

                  1. re: ceegee

                    Here's the list of the chocolates we tried, country of origin for the beans are in parenthesis. All are plain dark chocolate.

                    Guylian 60% Belgium
                    Green & Black Organic 70% Italy
                    Rapunzel Organic 70% Switzerland
                    Santander Columbian Single Origin 70% (Columbia) Columbia
                    Scharffen Berger 70% Berkely, CA
                    Valor 70% (Ghana/Panama/Ecuador) Spain
                    Equal Exchange Organic 71% (Dominican Republic/Peru) Switzerland
                    Unique Origin Varietal Chocolate 71% (Ecuador) Spain
                    Unique Origin Varietal Chocolate 71% (Venezuela) Spain
                    Endangered Species 72% USA
                    Ghiardelli 72% San Francisco, CA
                    Dagoba Organic 73% (Dominican Republic) Oregon, USA
                    Droste 75% Belgium
                    Lindt 75% France
                    Hachez 77% Germany
                    Valrhona 85% (Africa) France
                    Weiss 85% France
                    Hachez Premier Cru 88% Germany

                    The absolute favorite was Santander Columbian Single Origin 70%. We also really liked Hachez 88%. If you are interested in our tasting notes, email me offlist.

                    If anyone has other dark chocolates they enjoy and think should be added to my tasting, please let me know!

                  2. re: saram

                    Scharffen Berger makes a fabulous baking chocolate, but, I agree that the eating chocolate they make is barely so-so.

                    1. re: MollyGee

                      I also agree. I love dark chocolate, but I think SB is too sour.

                2. re: CornflakeGirl

                  I think the Scharffen Berger was what the original poster was referring to. It's the only one I know of that's specifically called "nibby bar" and Hershey's bought Scharffen Berger a while back.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    That is correct!! I bought a Nibby Bar at a cheese shop recently and was shocked to see the change. Bought it and the flatness of the new shapped bar totally changed the experience for me. I had remained hopeful that the Hersey buy would not mean a change, but I guess you can't stop 'progress'... :P

                    --Dommy!

                3. Ooh, flavored dark chocolate bars . . . Why, yes, I have tried a *few* new ones recently:

                  1. Chuao: the expansion of this brand from San Diego (recently arrived at Gelsons) is, in my opinion, the biggest chocolate news to hit L.A. in a long time. Gelsons has 4 new Chuao bars, all of which I’ve tried and thought were terrific: “Caracas” in light or dark (60%) with almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios; “Spicy Maya Bar” (dark chocolate with pasilla chile and cayenne), and my favorite, the “Chinita Nibs Bar” (dark with cocoa nibs and nutmeg), which I find to be both subtle and stunning, one of my top new foods to hit the L.A. market recently. (Chuao has other bars, but I haven’t seen them in L.A. yet.)

                  http://www.chuaochocolatier.com/

                  2. Green & Black’s, an English chocolate that can be found at all the overpriced groceries around here—for me, the best is the Maya Gold bar (orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla), but they have other "not too dark dark" bars that you might like very much—the hazelnut/currant is nice. Their website lists a whole bunch of other great-looking choices that may not be available in the U.S.—“luxury” dark chocolate with ginger, cherries, butterscotch.

                  http://www.greenandblacks.com/chocola...

                  3. Chocolove (at WF, Gelsons, Bristol). Very good, especially the 65% dark with ginger, the 55% dark with cherries and almonds, and the 55% dark with raspberries. These bars have chunks of fruit and feel sort of “filling” when you eat them, as if they are bona fide food—we know better, but it’s nice to pretend.

                  http://www.chocolove.com/10greatbars.htm

                  4. A bit less expensive than the others on this list, Ghirardelli's new line of “Intense Dark” bars is not bad, especially the "Citrus Sunset" (60% dark with orange and caramel bits); these bars are a little thinner than is optimal, so I just fold the pieces over double to get the proper thickness. (I do the same thing with Hershey’s Special Dark—which was my grandfather’s favorite chocolate bar for decades.
                  )
                  http://www.ghirardelli.com/products/c...

                  5. “Rejects”: I really haven’t been too impressed with any of the house-brand or off-brand chocolates at TJs—the Scharffen Berger is fine for basic chocolate, and the Toblerone and Ritter Sport are the same as anywhere else (they don’t have the Ritter dark w/marzipan which is my particular vice), but the other ones haven’t worked for me. Recently I tried TJ’s dark chocolate-covered toffee with pistachios, which should have been right up my alley, but I ended up throwing half of it out because, while it wasn’t bad exactly, after the first few bites it started to taste mostly like grease and I just didn’t feel the taste justified further calorie intake. Also, opinions vary, but for me the Dagoba bars you see at WF (and elsewhere) are not very flavorful, not worth the bucks.

                  Well, that's it for this week's tests. :-)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PayOrPlay

                    I just tried Chuao Spicy Maya bar last night. I thought it was good, but a bit too sweet for my taste...I like the bitterness of dark chocolate, which I felt this bar was missing. However, I melted it for hot chocolate and it was fantastic!

                  2. Vosges redfire is one of my favorites too! I prefer dark...Green and Black's Dark 70% and their Hazelnut/Currant bar are both quite good. Dagoba is another brand that has some interesting flavors, I like the spicy xocolatl!

                    1. The best nibby bar is the Vintage Plantations "Arriba" bar. I find a lot of high cocoa solids chocolates to be dry and bitter, but although this is 65% it has a really luscious mouthfeel, well-balanced flavors and a pleasing finish. It's also fair trade, shade grown, etc.

                      http://www.thenaturalhealthadvocates....

                      1. Wow. This thread goes to show you that chocolate is extremely subjective. I haven't really cared for the Vosges chile/choc blend bars, but I really enjoy the Barcelona bar. I liked some of their truffles (refer to my old Valentine's post), but I was more smitten w/ their caramel collection.

                        I haven't cared for the Green & Blacks, Chocolove, or Dagoba that I tried. Not that I've exhausted their lines, but I've found the base chocolate to not be suave or voluptuous enough or do anything for me personally. Flavorings might be interesting but if the chocolate is flat, then why bother...

                        Husband (smart and dear man that he is) just bought me two new Vosges bars, the Goji and the Calindia, at our local source.

                        Photo of Goji bar package: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                        Photo of Calindia bar package: http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

                        I was soooo excited to try them b/c the flavors sounded so interesting and right up my alley. Like you, I prefer a moderate level of cacao and not too bitter. I'm sad to say that I don't really care for either. Generally speaking, the flavors just aren't balanced and the spicing seems to work against the chocolate, not creating the synergy I experience w/ the Barcelona bar or some of the other Vosges confections.

                        I don't find the Goji berries odd, but I'm struggling to describe their flavor; they have an earthy, slightly peppery tartness to them. Unfortunately, in conjunction w/ the Himalayan salt, they make the bar taste overly salty to me.

                        I don't consider myself a chocolate afficianado in the least, but my favorite eating chocolate bars to date are those produced by Cote d'Or, which I believe is also available at Surfas.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          Yes, chocolate preferences are very subjective, and, to complicate matters further, a lot (maybe most) of the high-end single bean stuff is not consistent across time, even within the same brand and/or item. I bought a case of Domori Blend No. 1 and loved (!) every single last bar. When I ran out, I bought another case, and the flavor was much more acidic. I didn't like the second batch nearly as much. I have experienced the same phenomenon, to varying degrees, with a variety of single bean and high-end blends. Furthermore, as others have observed, high end eating chocolates are not necessarily the best cooking chocolates, and vice versa. (I completely agree with MollyGee that Scharfenberger makes a very good cooking chocolate, but is too acidic for my taste as an eating chocolate.)

                          Finally, I absolutely realize that reasonable hounds can differ on this point, but as far as I'm concerned, chocolate flavored with rosemary, thyme, ginger, lime, pepper, and/or any of the other odd ball additions currently in vogue, is an abomination. These additions completely overpower and mask the subtle intricacies of the chocolate. Might as well mix in pop rocks for God's sake. (Fwiw, I'll sometimes make an exception to my rule here for coffee, and possibly orange flavors, if added with restraint.)

                          1. re: David Kahn

                            I agree, David! I have a couple more exceptions: ginger and chocolate and mint and chocolate go well together, and pepper done correctly can be good. But most of the herbal/flower/fruit chocolates (not filled chocolates, but chocolate with flavorings) I've tried are awful.

                            Carb Lover, if you want a more voluptuous chocolate I strongly recommend that you try the Vintage Plantations. By far the most "voluptuous" high-cocoa solids chocolate I've tried.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Thanks for the rec; I'll look out for those Vintage Plantations.

                              I can appreciate the fact that true chocolate lovers don't want funky flavors to mar the chocolate qualities, but I happen to love chocolate w/ nuts and salt (hence my fondness for Vosges' Barcelona bar). I also like choc w/ coffee and some fruits. While the idea of spices like cardamom, cumin, curry, and pepper sounds intriguing, I never end up caring for the taste.

                            2. re: David Kahn

                              You know that there were pop rocks in a "special edition" Godiva chocolate around Christmas right? I assume you were referring to that but if you weren't, fyi. I actually really enjoyed them, yes I realize Godiva is not good chocolate, go ahead flame me. The pop rocks just made for a fun surprise finish.

                              1. re: julesrules

                                I had no idea, actually. I was just trying to think of the most outlandish thing one could possibly add to chocolate.

                                1. re: David Kahn

                                  Too funny, leave it to Godiva to add ridiculousness.

                              2. re: David Kahn

                                Like any agricultural product, the flavors of cocoa beans will vary from year to year. It is impossible for any sort of high end chocolate maker to produce an identical product from year to year. It would be like a vintner producing the same wine every year. But unlike wine, chocolate is highly perishable and so once you've tasted that "perfect" bar, you may never taste it again.

                                I completely agree with you about the flavored chocolates.

                              3. re: Carb Lover

                                Have you tried the Endangered Species line of chocolate bars? That's my favorite brand at the moment, especially the Chimp bar (a plain moderately dark chocolate). I have the same problems with Green & Black, Chocolove and Dagoba that you described. I will have to try to find some Cote d'Or bars to try. Are those local to you?

                                1. re: maillard

                                  I forgot about the Endangered Species line! I haven't had the chimp bar, but I liked the tiger and the rhino bars. They have a nib bar, but I haven't tried that one either...

                                  1. re: ceegee

                                    Okay, so tonight I picked up a couple of Endangered Species bars: the 75% dark with cacao nibs and the 52% milk chocolate with almonds.

                                    The former was disappointing -- I didn't like either the flavor or the texture was as much as the Vintage Plantations I've been buying (I did a side-by-side test). But at least it was edible. The 52% milk chocolate with almonds wasn't: it was flavorless and gummy; the tiny fragments of almond were barely apparent. And this is from someone who *likes* milk chocolate.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      I guess I have found the Endangered Species bars to be a bit uneven. I really like the chimp (60%) and the rainforest (mint dark), but I haven't had any of the others in a long time. I buy the black panther (88%) sometimes for s'mores, but don't eat it straight. I do remember not liking their milk chocolate at all. It's far too light and you're right about the gumminess.

                                      Have you tried Green & Black's milk chocolate? That's my favorite milk chocolate by far. I wish more companies made darker milk chocolates (if anyone's seen others, please let me know!).

                                  2. re: maillard

                                    My local market, Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz, carries a couple of the Cote d'Or bars. Forget the exact kind, but they're plain chocolate bars, no funky flavors. I believe that Made in France in Brisbane (south of SF) also carries their line, and they're having a public sale this weekend.

                                    I find Cote d'Or to have the perfect balance for me...nice sheen, rich mouthfeel, and sweet fruity undertones w/o being too sour. I also like the chunky one studded w/ hazelnuts and raisins. I'll keep a look out for the Endangered Species line...

                                2. Cote d'Or is made in Belgium, I believe. I want to love Green & Black but I don't. Same for Dagoba. I haven't tried Endangered Species recently. The store near me that carries them (and Green & Black, Chocolove and Dagoba) also carries Vintage Plantations, my current favorite, so that's what I've been buying.

                                  1. no, no...not SB. not a big fan of SB. I've discovered these little tins at TJs by The Chocolate Traveler (70% cacao) that have 16 little wedges of yummy dark chocolate inside - one is perfect for a quick fix.

                                    1. Not exactly a Bar - but I love Serendipity Chocolate's ( www.serendipitychocolates.com ) triply-infused Hades and Duchess de Brabrant truffles. The former has jalapeno, habanero and chipotle peppers (it's a slow but intense heat, goes great with the dark chocolate shell & ganache) and the latter is flavored with rose essence, rose alcohol and rosewater (the flowery perfume is fragrant but not overpowering

                                      )

                                      ~they also make Peppered Kama Sutra molded bars... for those "special" occasions ;)

                                      1. Ooh! I forgot to mention Jacques Torres' chocolate bars. They're soo good! I love his Wickedly Spiced, Orange Orbit and Coffee Break bars.

                                        http://mrchocolate.com/CatItems.aspx?...

                                        Cote d'Or bars are pretty good too. I've had their gianduja bar recently and I like it.

                                        1. I'm not sure if you'll be able to get it outside of Seattle (though I'm pretty sure you can arrange mail order if you phone them), but I have to plug Theo Chocolate. They start from the cocoa bean, roast their own and go from there. I believe they are the only company making fair trade organic chocolate in the US. We went on their factory tour a few months ago and had a great time.
                                          Their 3500 Phinney bars come in dark varieties and light. We particularly love the Coconut Curry, which is milk chocoloate, and the coffee, which is dark chocolate. They also make a Bread and Chocolate that I loved at the factory but which hasn't been as satisfying since (they messed with the recipe). You may be interested in the 'nib brittle' bar. I believe they make a brittle using cocoa nibs and fold that into the chocolate bar. Their confections are mighty tasty as well.

                                          You can find them on the web here: http://www.theochocolate.com/

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Laurella

                                            Dagoba, of Ashland OR, makes Fair Trade organic chocolate.

                                          2. dolfin chocolate bars. especially with pink peppercorns or earl grey tea

                                            1. I like the Green & Black milk chocolate with almonds-- I find their milk chocolate to be just the right amount of creamy, but to still have nice fruity note to it. I don't like their caramel bar-- too gooey and one-note tasting. My mother in law, a dark chocolate fan, like the hazelnut and currant.

                                              Endangered Species' plain milk bar is also very good. I'm not sophisticated enough to like the dark chocolate. Must be all that Spam I ate as a kid-- damaged my tastebuds. : )

                                              Also, though it may be abomination to say so, I really like Lindt's capuccino truffle bar, as well as the peanut butter filled milk chocolate truffles that come with the orange foil wrapping. They're a different animal than Reese's (or even Newman's Own) peanut butter cups, but they're quite tasty, regardless.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                                I don't like the Green & Black dark chocolates that much, but I do love their darker milk chocolate bar. I always wondered why nobody ever made a chocolate between the supersweet and mild milk and the superdark and bitter dark. I can't buy the G&B darker milk chocolate bars too often, since I generally eat them half a bar at a time.

                                              2. Although, as is obvious from the various responses to this thread, chocolate is extremely subjective, a lot of interesting comparative reviews of lots of pure chocolate bars (along with good info on the various suppliers) can be found at the "Chocopaedia " here:

                                                http://www.seventypercent.com/chocop/

                                                Most of their top choices aren't easily found near me, but I was able to find the Lindt & Sprüngli Excellence 85% at a local market and I must say, for me at least, it fully lives up to their glowing description.

                                                1. my favorite plain dark chocolate bar is a spanish brand called chocovic. single-bean, my favorite is the ocumare made from criollo beans grown in venezuela. great quality at any price -- at trader joe's, $1.99 /80-gram bar.

                                                  1. If you ewver have a chance to get a Grenada Chocolate Co. bar - do it! I brought a dozen back for our vacation in Grenada and everyone loved them