October 2, 2011

Mucho mocha and matcha: Round Three of the NAF Cocoa Cup

Life Overtaking Law

Round 3 of the NAF Cocoa Cup proved to be something of a wildcard match-up. To begin with, this week’s lineup featured four competitors, instead of the usual three. In addition, each of the entries for this week were distinguished – and, in some cases, overwhelmed – by their particular flavour of filling. The end result was that each contestant lost points from one or more judges due to personal dislikes, either because the secondary flavour overwhelmed the chocolate, or simply because they weren’t fans of the flavour in question. At the end of the day, with no clear consensus as to a winner, the matter was settled by ranked voting, which led to an unprecedented tie for second place. The final results were as follows:

4th place: Rogers’ Chocolates – Butter Caramel in Milk Chocolate

Established in 1885, Rogers’ is our most venerable contestant to date, and its fourth-place finish was a fairly close affair. The bar’s aesthetics won significant points with the judges, from the high-quality packaging down to maple leaf motif embossed on the chocolate squares themselves. However, the bar was not as warmly received on taste. Perhaps because of our experience with the dark chocolate selection from the previous round, the near-unanimous criticism was that this bar was too sweet. In addition, the judges noted that the chocolate itself was almost completely overwhelmed by the caramel flavour. While some judges admitted to not being fond of caramel to begin with, one judge stated that she would choose an ordinary Caramilk bar over this contender. With that said, this reviewer would be quite happy to have one of these one hand to snack on, one square at a time (although, as we discovered, the squares will not necessarily separate themselves neatly – for future efforts, chilling the bar beforehand may be a good idea).

As a final note, the bar’s claimed nutritional value presents a bit of a puzzle – not only does it profess to have 22 grams of protein per serving (considerably more than a nutrient bar consulted for comparison), but it also has a further 24 grams of carbohydrates. The combination is particularly impressive given that a serving size is measured at a total of 40 grams. The mathematical reconciliation of these facts is left as an exercise for the reader.

2nd and 3rd place (tie):    Brockman’s Truffini – Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Truffle Bar

schokolade – Mocha Milk Chocolate Bar

With only a slim margin separating these two from our fourth-place finisher, neither one could manage to lay sole claim to second. The two bars have very little in common: where schokolade’s Mocha bar was crunchy, Truffini’s Matcha was soft; where the truffle bar came wrapped in gold foil (albeit the slightly disappointing wax paper variety), schokolade was notable for its minimalist brown paper packaging. Despite the bars’ differences, their standing was identical in terms of the score they received from our panel. Each received a single first-place vote, while one judge had them tied for dead last, with the majority ranking the two in the middle ground.

If Matcha Green Tea strikes you as an odd choice for a flavour of chocolate, you are not alone – a couple of our judges were unenthused from the outset, and the bar did little to change their minds. However, fans of green tea ice cream will likely be impressed by the bar’s combination of mellow tea and sweet chocolate. Although the taste may not be for everyone, the bar is easy to share – unlike some of our other contenders, this bar neatly divide into six segments without any liquid filling to mess around with.

schokolade’s Mocha stood out for its use of barley malt extract, which our readers may know best as a key ingredient in malt balls. Both the taste and the crunch of malt balls are notable when biting into this bar; however, the mocha flavour is also quite apparent, and works well with the other components. Notwithstanding the variety of ingredients and flavours, this entry was in some ways the closest to a true chocolate bar of any of the contenders sampled. However, as with last week, we must note that a failure to include nutritional information puts this bar on the wrong side of the regulatory law. Manufacturer beware!

1st place: Brockman’s Truffini – Raspberry Chocolate Truffle Bar

Not being able to pick just one flavour of truffle bar to work with, our resident chocolate procurer presented us with an additional Truffini candidate. While there was some talk of having the two truffle bars considered as a single tag-team entry, at the end of the day the Raspberry variety proved to be the more popular of the two. Despite a pointed dissent from one judge, who likened the experience to being “punched in the face by raspberry jelly”, by and large the panel was favourably impressed with the chocolate-raspberry combination. Prospective eaters should be advised, however, that attempting to split a square with a friend may lead to a sticky situation, as the filling is somewhat runny at room temperature.

While variety may be the spice of life, our judges agreed that there is definitely something to be said for keeping things simple. In that spirit, expect a back-to-basics review of chocolate for the sake of chocolate in the weeks to come.