For the love of chocolate: 8 varieties put to the test

Chocolate choices. Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017.(Photo by Todd Mizener / tmizener@qconline.com)

Ah, February. The month of love, flowers — and chocolate. It's everywhere you turn, it seems, and it's as easy as can be to snag for ourselves or our loved ones.

But we don't want just any chocolate; we want chocolate that tastes good — really good — and is as planet-friendly as possible. Choosing the perfect chocolate, however, can be a daunting task, so we at Radish decided to take one for the team and host an in-office taste test. 

Since the closest tree that produces cocoa beans is in the tropics, we dropped about $25 at Q-C health and grocery stores for a few as-local-as-it-gets chocolate bars to put to the test.

Similar to just about everyone else, some of our staffers prefer milk chocolate while others prefer dark, so we grabbed four of each to try. Before tax, each cost about $2-$3 and some change. 

We gathered around the conference room table and everyone had a taste — first the milk varieties, then the dark — and we ranked them, one through four, by what we liked best. 

We learned that all milk chocolates are not created equal, and the same goes for dark chocolate. Just because you're a fan of milk or dark chocolate doesn't mean you'll like all of the varieties that are out there.

We also found that just because a candy bar costs nearly four bucks, that doesn't mean it tastes like it. (What a let down, for both your taste buds and your wallet!)

And, though it was rare, we saw that like all other foods, one person's favorite milk or dark selection was another person's least favorite, so keep that in mind while making selections of your own! 

So here are the chocolates we tried, complete with our thoughts on each. May you find it helpful, or at the very least, entertaining! 

Milk chocolate

1. Chocolove milk chocolate (33 percent cocoa), made with cocoa farmed in a socially responsible and ethical manner, according to the label.

Testers said this chocolate was very good and "melty." It has a light brown appearance and has a nice, smooth texture.

One tester said that out of all of the chocolates we sampled, milk or dark, this was the only one he would purchase. (Many continued to return to this — especially after sampling a not-so-tasty variety — until the whole bar was gone!) 

2. Dagoba milk chocolate (37 percent cacao — say kuh-KAH-oh), organic.

This chocolate tasted a bit more bland than the Chocolove variety, testers said, and it is a bit crumbly. It has a bit of a darker appearance, too. 

It was all right, one tester said. "Nothing special." 

3. Endangered Species Chocolate natural milk chocolate (48 percent cocoa), fair trade.

Testers said this chocolate was darker yet in appearance, and bitter with a weird aftertaste.

"Tastes like a plant and not a good plant," one tester said. "Pretty gross."

4. Green & Black's milk chocolate (34 percent cacao), organic, fair trade.

While nicely milky in color, it certainly wasn't in flavor, testers said. Instead, they said it had a strange taste.

"Didn't really taste like chocolate, either," one tester said.

Dark chocolate

1. Dagoba dark chocolate (59 percent cacao), organic.

Dark in color, testers said this chocolate had a good texture and an "OK" flavor.

Some, however, mentioned a weird aftertaste, one describing it as "licorice," and another described it as "nail polish remover."

2. Chocolove strong dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), made in part with cocoa farmed in a socially responsible and ethical manner, according to the label.

This chocolate has a good, smooth texture, and it looks pretty, testers said. Its flavor was quite strong "without being bitter," though.

It too, however, seemed to have a bit of an aftertaste. 

3. (Tie!) Endangered Species Chocolate natural dark chocolate (72 percent cocoa), fair trade; Green & Black's dark chocolate (70 percent cacao), organic.

Two of our eight testers seemed to enjoy the Endangered Species' take on dark chocolate — but the remaining six disagreed. 

"Gross," one tester said. "I can't pinpoint what is wrong with this, but something is."

One tester said that while it looked pretty in appearance and had a nice texture, they needed to rinse out their mouth after sampling it.

The reviews of Green & Black's chocolate bar were a bit more harsh. 

One tester simply said, "Awful." 

This chocolate bar was described as crumbly and almost crunchy, certainly not smooth or creamy. 

"I don't know what this flavor is," one tester said.

"That made me want to never eat chocolate again," said another.

Laura Anderson Shaw is the editor of Radish.

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