October 19, 2011

Nature v. Nurture: Round Four of the NAF Cocoa Cup

Life Overtaking Law

After a brief dalliance with a variety of flavoured milk chocolates, our panel decided to drop the sugar content with a return to the realm of dark chocolate. With three candidates to choose from, our panel selected a champion by unanimous acclaim. The results are as follows:

3rd Place: Deliss Chocolate – “I Love Myself”

It is worth noting at the outset that this bar might have fared better in a blind taste-test. Our tasters generally agreed that the chocolate itself was of good quality, and struck a good balance between the bitter and sweet elements. However, the bar’s promotional presentation was widely panned. As part of Deliss’ “My Therapy Bar” series, “I Love Myself” is marketed with a mission to “empower your spirit” through chocolate consumption. The imagery and motto on the packaging indicate, without subtlety, that this form of spiritual empowerment is specifically for women. While the male constituents of our office were content to observe that they would have no reason to purchase this particular brand of chocolate, the women present were unanimously unimpressed with the theme. The association of women with chocolate-as-therapy was poorly received by our chocolate-loving female teammates, and the inspirational message included with the bar was generally deemed cheesy (apparently our office includes no fans of Eckhart Tolle). Notwithstanding its redeeming features (including support for women’s charitable organizations around the world), it quickly became apparent that this bar was not a serious championship candidate.

2nd Place: Denman Island Chocolate – “Espresso Chunk”

After giving some of our previous contestants a hard time about their lack of nutritional information, we were (perhaps excessively) pleased to note that since Denman Island’s papee wrapper is too small tp include the usual table of data, the makers have included a toll-free number as an acceptable substitute – plus, the inclusion of the company’s web address, while not required, is also a smart marketing move. As we learned in our last round, not all of our tasters are fond of coffee beans in their chocolate, which kept this entry from serious contention for first place. However, it was generally agreed that this bar was a step up from our other espresso entry. While cracked beans provide a nice crunch, the coffee flavour here is merely an accent to the solid dark chocolate foundation. With only four all-organic ingredients, this compact contender makes a little go a long way.

1st Place: Hagensborg Chocolates – “Wild Boar”

As makers of the chocolate orange “Truffle Pig” bar that was the winner of our first round, Hagensborg is already doing quite well in our competition. This week’s challenger is in some ways a more straightforward entry, consisting entirely of 64% cocoa single origin dark chocolate. However, despite the no-nonsense ingredients, the bar won significant points for its whimsical presentation, with embossed boars and stylized bite-marks illustrating the “savage feast” theme. The chocolate is described as having a “fresh, acidic taste with intense notes of dark fruit”, which our tasters found to be a fairly accurate description. The bar makes use of high-quality ingredients without taking itself too seriously, which makes the end product satisfying yet accessible. At the end of the day, the Wild Boar was the clear favourite, leaving Hagensborg with another representative amongst our finalists.

The stage is almost set for our tournament of champions – however, there is still one more preliminary round left to complete. Stay tuned.