Battle of the 70s

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.

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Categories: Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Divine, Green & Black's, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

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46 thoughts on “Battle of the 70s

  1. thesweetkitten

    I have a sudden craving for chocolate now …

  2. I too have an immediate craving for chocolate, esp the dark kind!!! The Devine bar looked so incredibly chunky (I’m familiar ith Green & blacks tho) ethical and tasty! Even better :)

  3. Your review is great! It has just the right amount of tang and smooth, with enough intrigue that now I want to find those two bars and take up martial arts. Ha!

  4. Lovely photos! This is the most yummylicious post ever!

  5. I never used to like dark chocolate until a few years ago. Now I love it. Your pictures are a tease, but in a good way. I really want some!

  6. Excellent researching and reporting! I must say, the LOOK of chocolate is so inviting – it’s hard to resist. I prefer how the Divine looks, but both sound delicious (in the right occasion, of course)!

    • Thank you very much for your kind words! I thought dark chocolate would be okay for vegans but reading the back of a packet I see that it says ‘may contain milk’. Do you eat this kind of chocolate, or would it have to be a carob-based bar?

  7. I especially loved the bite marks evident in the chunk of Divine, LOL! What’s your favourite beverage to accompany chocolate consumption?

    • It was so difficult to bite through, I worried for my teeth. Good question about the accompanying beverages. With chocolate I particularly like to have Kukicha Japanese roasted twig tea because it’s taken black and has a smoky, earthy sort of flavour that offsets the sweetness of chocolate. Having said that, however, I would very happily imbibe most hot beverages with a nice piece of chocolate. (I prefer hot drinks because the chocolate melts more quickly in a warm mouth, and also you can dunk the chocolate into the beverage, which is a great joy in life.) What about you?

      • Tough choice! I agree with the warm beverage idea, but in an Australian summer, when you need to keep your chocolate in the fridge so it doesn’t become a liquid mess, I have found cold milk to be outstanding.
        I’m quite partial to Genmaicha with the more bitter dark chocolates, or a nice vanilla or lavender tea with the sweeter types. Or for a match made in heaven, a good latte!

  8. I’m a dark chocolate fool! I know I can get the G&B at my favorite food store, but I’ll have to look for the Divine. It seems to be named appropriately. As for a beverage: coffee. My current favorite is Katz Jumping Mouse roasted here in Houston.

    Love all your chocolate reviews!!!

    Oh, and now that I’ve been looking for Flake and Twirl bars, I see Maltesers everywhere! (No Flakes and Twirls, but lots of Cadbury Easter egg chocolates.)

    • Thank you very much Marian, and you’re right, Divine is very appropriately named. I love the name of your favourite coffee!

      I was thinking about doing a post on Easter eggs, the shops are going mad with them at the moment. I haven’t seen any Divine ones, but I have seen G&Bs.

  9. That’s a very fine, meticulously executed and documented piece of research. And I’m very pleased you’ve submitted it for peer review.

    I can’t fault your findings either. I love Divine and Green and Blacks and as you say, it’s horses for courses, very much a mood thing.

    I think the chunkier size of the Divine chocolate is to make it last longer. Have you tried making a single chunk last for as long as you can by not chewing it but just letting it sit on your tongue until it melts away? If not, I can heartily recommend it, but I suggest you leave it until the last chunk otherwise the temptation to chomp it quickly to get to the next chunk can be quite irresistable.

    And the other thing I love G+B’s 70% dark is that it goes very well indeed with a large glass of merlot. (It goes just as well with a small one too, but I prefer mine large).

    • I’m thrilled to bits to get such a comment from a proper scientist, I thank you kind sir. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if there was a periodical one could submit chocolate reviews to? Perhaps there is, and if there isn’t there ought to be. Maybe I should set one up. I’m running away with myself here.

      As it happens, I have one chunk of that Divine chocolate left and so tomorrow I will try out your suggestion and see how long I can keep it on my tongue, resisting the strong urge to chew into it (I fear this is going to be very difficult, but I will give it my best shot).

      If I were a wine drinker I feel sure I would agree with you but very sadly I sickened myself of the stuff as a student and now I can’t face it at all. It is really quite tragic. However, one has to make the best of things and I’ve attempted to make up for it by sampling whisky and real ale instead.

  10. I love this article! Amazing descriptions. I shall definitely try the ‘Divine’ chocolate. I’ve had some Cadbury’s Bourneville in the fridge for a while and it’s almost impossible to break – you need a mallet. When you’re already hungry for chocolate, hitting it with a mallet gives an impression of manic desperation that isn’t always good.

    • Ha ha, what a picture! Thank you for your kind comments. I gave my mum both chocolates to try and she said she preferred Bourneville to either of them. It’s ages since I’ve had any so I’ll need to reacquaint myself. So much chocolate, so little time.

  11. I’m a 70s girl myself. I’ll have to hunt down some of that Divine, sound like my kind of chocolate :)

  12. What an assiduous and scientific approach to this whole question!

  13. I love your research topic! I didn’t used to like dark chocolate at all until my husband bought me a book called The Chocolate Therapist. You can find out the result of my reading here http://suth2.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/chocolate-is-good-for-you-the-chocolate-therapist/

    Another magical post Lorna. Thank you.

  14. Dark chocolate is the best favor you can serve to your health, Im a chocolatier for a regular job, and I love your blog overall but this post is simply gorgeous in every level.

    I look forward to your book release, bear in mind shipping to Norway!!!

    • You’re a chocolatier? What a fantastic job! Thank you very much for your comments. :) I’m wondering about doing my book just as an e-book, but then not everyone has an e-reader. I will bear the shipping in mind, that’s a good point. I think it’s going to be a pretty small, light, pocket-sized book though so the shipping should be minimal.

  15. I think your project is great. An e-book is a start. Just let the project itself tell you where to go next. Let us know the news about it :) Im a food photography lover, so really looking forward to it.

    • Thank you, that’s very kind. If I publish it myself on paper I doubt it will have photos in it because that would make it too expensive, but I’ll certainly keep you posted with any progress on my blog. Thanks again for your encouragement. :)

  16. Those really look good! I feel a sudden craving for chocolate now..

  17. Geoff

    I am a big fan of G&B 85%, dark and tangy, very intense.
    I love to just let in melt in my mouth.
    Tescos used to do a fabulous 85% Ecuadorian chocolate.
    It was wonderful, so Tescos stopped making it and produced an 85% Swiss chocolate instead – don’t waste your money on it, rubbish in my opinion!

    However having read your great taste test, I now have to go and get some chocolate for myself.

    Can I humbly suggest increasing the sample size for your next comparison test, Willies chocolate would be worth including and its available at Provender and Browns

    • Thanks Geoff, I haven’t tried Willie’s chocolate, but next time I’m in Perth I’ll need to pop into Provender and Browns (lovely shop – any excuse!).

      I don’t think I’ve tried the G&B’s 85% either, although I did try some of Tesco’s recently (they do an 85% Ivory Coast and Ecuadorian bar) and and found it quite intense and heady (nothing wrong with that of course). I haven’t tried the Swiss one, it didn’t really appeal to me for some reason.

      There is just so much chocolate to try – isn’t it wonderful! Tesco’s had a special offer on G&B’s chocolate recently and I bought four bars with the intention of dedicating a post to them, but what do you know, I ate them all before I managed to do it.

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