A few of you commented directly or indirectly that you probably won’t spend the money or make the effort to track down the best bar chocolate unless you know ahead of time that it is worth it. It was unclear to you from my previous article on the subject whether the high end treat is really that much different from the bargain basement stuff. So to help clarify, I set up another taste test comparing what I could find locally to our personal favorite chocolate bar.
What I found in the process was surprising. There is a much greater variety of flavor in common chocolate bars than in the high end. It really pays to pay attention to brand you buy at the grocery store or drug store. Some of them are quite terrible. One was so bad, we were ready to throw it away after trying it.
As expected, Christopher Elbow Dark Milk chocolate was our winner. As mentioned in my previous article, this is not the highest rated chocolate of the pro tasters but it was Melanie and my favorite. As before, we both scored it a 5. This time I noticed that it has a coffee aftertaste which makes sense because chocolate and coffee share many similar flavors. However, there were no strange flavors, no weird aftertaste, good texture, and strong sweet chocolate flavor without the over-the-top sweetness found in candy bars. Of course the point is not to see if this is the best but to see how it compares to easy to buy chocolate so let’s carry on with our other bars.
I think of baker’s chocolate as insanely bitter and terrible to eat on it’s own so I was very surprised that our favorite common bar was Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. This is pretty good chocolate – less than the high end bars, but tasty. It has a real chocolate flavor without any weird aftertaste. If this is not sweet enough for you, you won’t like many of the high end bars, but you might still like our top pick which is sweeter than this.
Melanie: 3 Jason: 4
Next up is our top sweet candy-like chocolate. Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips. There is a marked reduction in chocolate flavor from any of the high-end bars or the baking bar listed above. It exchanges chocolate flavor for sweetness and vanilla, but it is tasty. You can just pound down handfuls of this stuff. If you think this is not sweet enough, don’t bother with the high end bars because they will taste gross to you.
Melanie: 4 Jason: 3
You have to hand it to the Mars people. They have a tough job of mixing all the different cacao beans together in huge quantities to get a consistent flavor blend from year to year. The Dove brand must be where they reserve their very best beans because the Dove Milk Chocolate was easily the best of the ultra mainstream bars we tried. It has a decent but low chocolate flavor and plenty of sweetness. Think of the best Easter candy you’ve gotten and that is what this tastes like.
Melanie: 2 Jason: 3
We are starting to cross a line here. I think Dove is trying to create a stronger chocolate-like flavor without really great chocolate to begin with. Dove Dark Chocolate is ok but is starting to taste a little weird. Melanie didn’t like it. For my money, I’d just grab a Snickers or something like that instead.
Melanie: 2 Jason: 3
I fully expected the tried and true Hershey bar to rank much higher. To me it was just ok – about on par with the two Dove bars – fluctuating in taste from mild to a little bit off. Melanie did not like it at all. It surprised me that, being the chocoholic that she is, she turned down any additional samples.
Melanie: 1 Jason: 3
How do I remember Hershey’s Special Dark being the “good chocolate” from my Halloween candies? It is just disgusting. It almost doesn’t taste like chocolate at all. Chemically. Feed to enemies. Yuk.
Melanie: 1 Jason: 1