How dark to you think dark chocolate should be?
This is not necessarily the definitive answer, but according to the European Union (click to see Wikipedia article), in order for chocolate to be ‘dark’ it must contain at least 35% cocoa solids (the same article states that the US has no official definition for dark chocolate). By contrast, something like the Cadbury’s Twirl (milk chocolate) contains ‘a minumum of 25% cocoa solids’. When I think of dark chocolate, I expect it to contain at least 60% cocoa solids, and in today’s little investigation I’ve decided to compare two bars containing 70% cocoa solids.
There are many different makes of dark chocolate, and if I were doing this thing properly I would have a wider sample range, but since this is really just an excuse for me to try out different chocolate, I’m comparing Green and Black’s with Divine (I should have taken a photograph of them nicely wrapped up together but unfortunately I had already started eating them before it occurred to me):
Part of my non-scientific approach to this was to purchase bars of different sizes. The Green & Black’s bar shown is the 100g size, whereas the Divine one is 45g. The reason for this is that I happened to see the small size of Divine the other day when I fancied some chocolate and then yesterday in Tesco I noticed that Green & Black’s chocolate was on special offer in the 100g size. It’s all down to practicalities.
Both companies are fully Fairtrade certified, so thumbs up to that in the first instance. They’re also both attractively packaged, in my opinion, and immediately recognisable due to their design.
First up: Green & Black’s. Here’s what greets you when you peel off the outer paper layer:
The foil inside continues the Green & Black’s font from outside the packet, and reinforces the fact that what you’re about to nibble on is organic. Very reassuring. As nice as the foil is, you need to remove it to get at the chocolate, and this is what faces you when you’ve done so:
Close up each individual rectangle carries the Green & Black’s leaf motif, apart from the rectangle at the bottom right, which is unique and special and wants to grab your attention with its distinctiveness:
The rows and columns of little chunks are segregated by channels that lead you to believe it would be easy to break them up into single blocks. In my experience this is not the case. They’re almost tolerant of you trying to break them into columns, but when it comes to rows they like to give you the run around. How often I have tried to break them into rows I don’t know, but I have no recollection of it ever having been successful. I tried for this investigation and all I got were bits like this, defiant in their refusal to break as I wished them to:
On the up side, the way they break makes the chocolate look inviting (whether this demonstrates conchoidal fracture or two directional cleavage I wouldn’t like to say, but either way it looks rather nice to me).
Most importantly, what does Green & Black’s 70% chocolate taste like? Well, here are my thoughts, and you may well disagree with me. The words that came to mind when I munched on a piece were: dark, bitter, sweet, tangy, lively and complex. Of these, the tanginess was what probably impressed itself on me most.
Very good, and now to the Divine:
The foil inside a bar of Divine is uniformly gold, certainly less interesting than the Green & Black’s. However, before you even get to the foil it has a few little tricks up its sleeve. End on, with this small bar at least, it demonstrates just how much thought has been put into the wrapper design:
When you open the wrapper, a pleasing symmetry of design is evident:
The imprints on the bar itself are very different from those on the Green & Black’s, but I’m not sure what they’re like on the 100g bar; obviously I will need to buy one and have a look.
To my mind, there is nothing linking the design on the outside of the packaging with that on the chocolate bar. Where there is a satisfying balance on the Green & Black’s bar and its packaging, no such balance exists with the Divine bar. You may consider it to be a good thing, this self-effacing gesture on the part of the Divine bar. Perhaps, it’s telling us, the taste will speak for itself. I endeavoured to find out. The individual blocks seemed to be too big for one mouthful and so I tried to bite into one. This was not an easy task, due to the thickness of the chocolate.
However, what I was hit with was a very welcome taste. One word entered my mind when I tasted this chocolate: smooth. Not for Divine, the tangy liveliness of the Green & Black’s. This chocolate had a laid-back, relaxed attitude and a smoothness I didn’t detect in the Green & Black’s. Also, unlike the Green & Black’s, it left no bitter after-taste. The sensation I had after eating this chocolate was that I had drifted off for a minute or two into a land of peaceful meadows, where all my cares and worries had been lifted and I felt happy and at one with the world.
And so, the verdict. Which did I like best?
What I would say is this. If you’re about to enter a martial arts competition – you’ve got your pjyamas on and your belt tied neatly round your waist – you need a chocolate bar that will stir the sinews, make you feel alert and vibrant and ready for action. In this case, I would recommend opting for Green & Black’s. The complexity will stimulate different areas of your brain, allowing your feet and arms to move in unison and enabling you to fly through your movements with ease and fluidity.
On the other hand, if you’re having a relaxing day off from the Ju-jitsu, you would be much better off with the Divine bar. Sink into your favourite chair with a nice cup of tea, or lie on the soft grass staring up at the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds, and let the smooth dark chocolate of Divine relax body and soul, refreshing and repairing your tired limbs and bringing peace and clarity to your mind.
There is, in my opinion, a time and a place for each of these wonderful chocolate bars and I would recommend keeping a small stock of each in your medicine cabinet.