Sunday, January 22, 2012

99% Dark Chocolate, Only for the Dark and Very Bitter!

Diaries of a Girl Gone Dark and Bitter, Day 22


All week long I have been tasting 99% dark chocolate. You might ask "Why on earth would you do that?" or at least that is what I am asking myself. So I re-read my "What is a Chocolate Connoisseur" post and try to remind myself to think long-term and the benefits that will come of all this bitterness. 

After a few days, this super-dark-and-almost-completely-unsweetened-except-for-1% chocolate became edible. After three days I almost started to enjoy it. Although I am not converted yet, I have one week to go of tasting only the bitterest of the bitter (I am moving on to 100% dark chocolate next week), so perhaps in a few days, 99% will seem like the sweetest chocolate in the world.

Because I live in a small community in Northern Ontario, it takes a lot of planning before I can spend a week tasting only one specific type of chocolate. I have to order online a few weeks in advance, or even buy a few months in advance when I am visiting a larger city. Unfortunately, I thought I had planned ahead by asking for 90% to 100% dark chocolate bars for Christmas, and I received some, but clearly not enough to make great comparisons during a two-week tasting period. I only had two chocolate bars on hand in the 90% range: Lindt Excellence 99% and Michel Cluizel NOIR INFINI 99%.  But on the upside, it gave me the time to taste these chocolate bars every day and really evaluate them, without too many to saturate my taste buds.  

When I put that first piece of Lindt 99% in my mouth (as I mentioned in one of my previous posts), I did not think I was going to be able to spend two full weeks tasting chocolate this bitter. Then I tasted the Michel Cluizel, and everything started to change. Well, at least after the second day of tasting, when I started to get used to the extreme bitterness of 99% chocolate.

After four days of tasting, my comparative assessment is this:

Michel Cluizel is more palatable. The smell is wonderful. There is a crunch every now and then, which is maybe the vanilla bean flecks (see below for the ingredients list). You can smell the vanilla more than you taste it. And the ginger, cinnamon, Bourbon vanilla pod is not noticeable, except that there is a slight spicy taste to the chocolate. After all, how much spice can there be in 1% of the chocolate bar?
The smell of the Lindt chocolate bar fools you. You think it is gong to be sweet, wonderful chocolate, then the bitterness hits you like a tonne of bricks. Although the pieces are very thin, it is still very harsh on the palate and there is a strong flavour of both real and artificial vanilla, even though there is no vanilla or flavour in the ingredients list (this is presumably because it is made at a factory that also makes chocolate with vanilla flavour and the aroma is so strong that it is affecting the flavour of the 99% bar). 
Don't get me wrong though, the Lindt 99% bar is still beautiful looking and as smooth as all other Lindt Excellence bars are.  But compared to the Michel Cluizel, it is just not in the same league.  And at a price of $4.95* for only 30g (1.05 oz) of Michell Cluizel, the Lindt Excellence bar, at about $3 or $4 for 50 grams, is definitely not in the same price range. The Lindt bar may be better suited for use in a chocolate ganache recipe.
 (Do not be confused by Lindt's packaging for their 99% bar, the chocolate inside the package is really thin, but the box size is exactly the same as Lindt Excellence 100 gram chocolate bars).
So I begin my last week of going "dark and bitter" tomorrow where I will be tasting the Pralus 100% and Bonnat 100% chocolate bars, and possibly a few others by the end of the week (I've been ordering online!).  Hopefully I will be used to all this bitterness come January 31st!

Here are the package details of the two chocolate bars that I tasted this week:

Michel Cluizel NOIR INFINI 99% Dark Chocolate, 30g (1.05 oz)
Michel Cluizel (Paris, France)
http://www.cluizel.com/
Ingredients: cocoas, cane sugar, ginger, cinnamon, Bourbon vanilla pod. May contain traces of shelled tree nuts, milk and gluten.

Lindt Excellence 99% Dark Chocolate, 1.8 oz (50g)
Manufactured by: Lindt & Sprungli S.A. (France)
Imported by: LINDT & SPRUNGLI (Canada), Inc, (Toronto, Canada)
http://www.lindt.com/
Ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa powder, coca butter, brown sugar.  May contain traces of peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, milk and soya lecithin.

*Canadian $$ at http://www.atasteforchocolate.com/.

Want to Know More about 99% or 100% dark chocolate?
Check out this post on Zotter's Peruvian 100% dark chocolate bar, which has become a favourite of mine since I wrote this post on Lindt and Michel Cluizel.  Also, Soma's Arcana chocolate bar is quite tasty, and takes sugar-free chocolate to a whole new level. And East Van Roaster from Vancouver, Canada offers a different approach to unsweetened chocolate, which you can read about here. Plus, check out this review of Bonnat and Pralus' 100% chocolate bars from 2012.

25 comments:

  1. How much of a difference do you think the cane sugar makes, as opposed to brown sugar? I've noticed, as I eat more and more chocolate made with cane sugar, that it just tastes so much better, even in dark chocolates...

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  2. Hi Tay! I think the brown sugar caused it to be even more bitter tasting and less palatable, although I guess not by much because it can't be more than 1% of the chocolate bar's ingredients. But I think you are right, regular cane sugar would have been better in the case of the Lindt 99% bar.

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  3. Lisbeth, Ah, that makes sense! Sorry my response is so late, I haven't been on here, but I also wanted to say, thanks so much for all the effort you put into blogging about chocolate!

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  4. Dark chocolate’s great, the perfect storm of flavor, flavonoids, and fat. It tastes really good, comes loaded with polyphenols, and cocoa butter is a great source of saturated and monounsaturated fat.

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  5. I am chocolate lover and cool and useful article in this site I m visiting daily in our website

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  6. Zotter 100% Peru, Coppeneur 100% Ecuador, Vivani 92% Panama all of which I would say are far better than the Lindt. And all available from our store... when they are not sold out!

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  7. dodi@napavalleychocolateco.comMarch 11, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    I took the Bean to Bar Class with Ecole and used the Michel Cluizel in my 99% tasting and was truly amazed at the taste of this bar. I went in thinking that at 99% it was going to be like baking chocolate, but it wasn't, it was incredible! If you're looking for a little chocolate snack to get you through, this would be the one, a little goes a long way!

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  8. The Michel Cluizel 99% is one of our favourites as well. Love that hint of vanilla aroma. Thanks for the great post.

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  9. You have to realize that Michel Cluizel chocolate is made with what they call only "noble ingredients". You will never find artificial ingredients or "flavorings". There's never a doubt when you look at the list of ingredients they use that they care about their end product. They also deal with specific plantations, and buy their beans well above market price to ensure the farmers get a fair price for their product. Cluizel didn't pay for the "fairtrade" logo and apellation, but they're practicing it

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    1. Thanks for the info Brigitte! I knew they preferred to have natural products, making their chocolate officially fall into the 'fine' chocolate category, but I did not realize it was a part of their mission/company objectives to never use artificial ingredients. It is also good for readers to know about Michel Cluizel's fair trade practices. Great comment!

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  11. I can't try cause i must order online.
    So please you tell me the difference of 2 type Michel Cluizel Noir Infini - 99% Dark Chocolate? 1 i see same the type you use, but 1 i see in chocolatetradingco is difference
    http://www.chocolatetradingco.com/buy/noir-infini-99-dark-chocolate-bar?k=+Michel+Cluizel
    which one better for tatse or use like materials to make fresh chocholate?
    thank for read

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  12. This. called. my. name. I think I just drooled all over myself.

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  13. “What many consumers don't know about chocolate – real chocolate, that is – is that it's very much like fine wine. It can be cultivated, developed and processed to deliver a wide range of flavors and nuances. In fact, the cacao bean, where chocolate comes from, is credited with over 1500 compound flavors (compared with only about 500 in wine).”

    “What this means is that, depending on where beans are grown, the weather and finally, the manufacturing process, it's possible to develop a chocolate bar like no other.”

    “In fact, and the possibilities are actually endless. Good chocolatiers are regarded as highly as the prestigious winemakers.”

    Source from Mokaya Chocolate

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  14. being on ketogenic diet and havent had tasted sugar in months makes even lindt 99% excellence taste sweet!!!

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  15. I actually love the 99%, is one of the best thing I have ever tasted in my entire life! Lots of Umami favour!

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  16. Hi ...I was wondering if you know of any organic bars in the 30-35g size that are made or at least sold in bulk in Canada? I'm trying to find one for my business.

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  17. Hi ...I was wondering if you know of any organic bars in the 30-35g size that are made or at least sold in bulk in Canada? I'm trying to find one for my business.

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    1. Hi Tracy!
      Are you looking for 99% dark chocolate that is organic in those sizes, or any organic chocolate bars? I was about to tell you about Camino brand 32 gram bars, but as I was gathering the website info, I learned they discontinued them.
      I'm not sure what your needs are, but I make something called the CacaoCookie. It is made of organic cacao beans & organic coconut sugar ground together into a crunchy 'cookie', then dipped in organic dark or milk chocolate. They are 30 grams each. Send me an e-mail at info@ultimatelychocolate.com if you want more information (i.e. price list, order info, etc.).
      There may also be some on the West Coast, but I'm not sure about organic (i.e. Barkley's), and Hummingbird's chocolate is made from bean-to-bar in Ottawa, and the bars may only be 35 grams, but may not always be organic.
      I hope that helps!

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  18. If you are in Hawaii on the Big Island, please stop by our shop and try some of our chocolate. We are actually the first chip company in Hawaii and make a number of unique, tropical chocolates that also use our chips: http://hawaiichips.com/. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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  19. worth to try the Chocolat stella Organic and fairtrade 100% cocoa and 92% cocoa chocolates
    www.swisschocolate.ch

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  20. You should try Santa Barbara Chocolate organic dark chocolate 100% cacao amazonas
    http://www.santabarbarachocolate.com/organic-unsweetened-chocolate-100-cacao-amazonas/
    It has no sugar and no lecithin and vanilla added.

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  21. i love chocolates but never tasted 99% pure dark chocolate

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  22. Hi, Is Lindt Cooking Chocolate 70% and Lindt Excellence 70% are both same / Can I use both for baking cake or chocolate frosting?

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