Saturday, September 13, 2008


Even though I've been to the Chocolate Museum, I'm no expert. When I was a naïf back in the U.S., I was aware fundamentally aware that there was milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. But the days when a cup of coffee was just a cup of coffee are long gone and the days when a chocolate bar is just a chocolate bar seem on their way out too. Single origin chocolate bars are common in the grocery store and I'm sure it'll be not too long until single estate chocolate bars show up too.

Here in Germany, chocolate bars often advertise their percentage of chocolate content (I'm pretty fuzzy on what this means: total chocolate (liquor), cocoa solids, or cocoa butter?). What is clear is that the larger the chocolate percentage, the darker the chocolate and the less sugar added. According to Wikipedia, in the U.S., "sweet" chocolate "requires a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules [for dark chocolate] specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids."

My baseline dark chocolate in the U.S. is good old Hershey's Special Dark. I don't know what percentage chocolate it is (it doesn't seem to be found easily online). A typical dark chocolate I'd buy at the store here is between 60-75% chocolate and is significantly chocolaty-er and less salty. Last year I bought 85%. It's a fairly intense experience. Not sweet, but very rich and if I just let a piece sit on my tongue, it might take 30 minutes to melt. Recently, though, I noticed that Lindt sells 99% chocolate bars. I couldn't resist.

I put a piece in my mouth and it doesn't melt at all. It doesn't even get soft. It just sits, slowly coming apart in my mouth and coating the inside until I wipe it off with my tongue and swallow it. It's not like eating any food product (what sort of food doesn't melt but you can't really chew either? is that what eating dirt is like?). The mouth feel of putting a whole piece in distracts me from noticing its flavor. I bite off a tiny bit, and now I can taste how incredibly bitter and intense it is. Very caffeiney too without being the least bit sweet (and gritty at parts -- pure bean?!). But it's like scrubbing your mouth out. Once it's gone, it's gone. No aftertaste at all. My mouth actually has no taste in it right now. Very cleansing. As suggested by the Lindt webpage (which I also offer as proof that I'm not accidentally eating baker's chocolate), I think it might be good with coffee. Maybe sweet coffee. My verdict: definitely worth at least trying.

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