Pros: Quality ingredients, average price for higher-end chocolate
Cons: Overly tangy, bitter, near-sour, and made in Poland instead of England.
I’ve been on something of a mission this past month. You see, last year, my doctor whined at me rather intensely about my cholesterol. No, it wasn’t horrific, it wasn’t “impending doom” awful, but she’s one of those “let’s throw a drug at that” types, and I’m one of those “I’d like to keep the pharmacology to a minimum, please” types.
Fast forward—it’s been a year-and-a-half since the last time I allowed them to do my bloodwork. Now, it hasn’t been a year-and-a-half since my bloodwork’s been done (other doctors, other things), but it’s been that long since my “PCP’s” office has done it. And they’ve decided to hold my daily anti-arrhythmia drug hostage until I get in there.
I’ve been agonizing over this. Preparing for the fight. And then it occurred to me.
Why don’t I just improve my lipid profile? Instead of gearing up for the battle, why not take away the reason for the battle?
That was a month ago. For one month, I’ve had no meat other than fish (turns out there’s a name for that—pescetarianism). I’ve dramatically upped my intake of fresh vegetables and fruits, begun including nuts in salads and dishes, added fatty fish to my diet twice a week, taken to exercising five days a week (at least 35 minutes a pop), and begun taking garlic, fish oil, and plant sterols and stanols.
Oh. And I’ve started eating chocolate. 50-70 grams a day, in fact.
Not just any chocolate. I’ve started eating dark chocolates containing at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate that hasn’t been “Dutch Processed” or alkalized. Dark chocolate without added oils or processed sugar.
And the first chocolate I picked up? Green and Black’s Organic 85% Cacao bar.
Yes, I was concerned with the 85% part. I was afraid it would be too acrid, too bitter, too sour.
Green & Black’s Organic 85% contains organic chocolate, organic cocoa butter, organic cocoa, organic raw cane sugar, and organic vanilla extract. Pretty much what I was looking for.
That Green and Black, which was bought by Cadbury, is now owned by Kraft (which acquired Cadbury in 2010)? A little troubling. You see, in a “cost-cutting measure,” Kraft shut down the traditional Cadbury plant that had been producing sweets for almost a hundred years, shipping that manufacturing work to Poland.
Anyway, back to the bar. Remember how I said I feared this bar would be too acrid, too bitter, too sour?
Boy, can I call ‘em?
I found this 3.5 ounce bar a difficult one to handle. While I can definitely taste the “fruity tones” that many refer to, fact is, those fruity undertones are completely dominated by the bitter, near-sour overtones. The initial flavor is almost not there—it’s a powdery, almost blank void. It takes a moment for any flavor to come through, and what comes through is so acrid, so bitter it’s practically sour. I’m not saying it’s TOTALLY unpalatable, just that it’s really not particularly enjoyable for me—I’m reminded of baker’s chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder with an odd, fruity aftertaste. The texture, while a bit dryer than most, is still smooth enough, which is completely at odds with the flavor. I figured it might just be me—my husband really enjoys darker chocolates, much more so than I do, so I offered him a piece.
He spat it out. Yikes!
This Green and Black bar comes split into 30 not-to-hard to break off, smallish pieces. Much smaller pieces than, say, the Newman’s Own or the Endangered Species. I’m assuming that’s because you’re not expected to be able to tolerate as much in one bite. Serving size is 12 of these pieces, which seems . . . unrealistic to me. But, of course, I don’t much like it, so it’s no surprise I couldn’t tolerate 12 pieces in one sitting. One-twelfth of that is plenty.
So, practical upshot? I won’t be buying this bar again. I’ll keep my cacao to the 70-75% range, which I find more palatable. If you like your chocolate so dark it’s barely recognizable as chocolate? You’ll probably really like this—I understand it is popular, so obviously there are folks out there who like things very dark, dry, and tangy. I’m just not one of them. I don’t need things cloyingly, milkily sweet, but I need a smoothness in flavor that’s lacking here.