Fancy flavour combinations and sugary delights are all well and good for keeping the novelty alive in one’s relationship with chocolate, but there are times when nothing but the darkest, most intense, barely-a-whisper-of-sweetness chocolate will suffice.
E. Guittard Nocture 91%
As is usually the case with higher-percentage chocolates, this 91% Nocturne by American chocolate company E.Guittard is very dark in colour – on the blacker side of brown – and has a firm texture and snap. Also nicely glossy, its aroma is of hazelnut, coconut, and cocoa powder with a slight hint of earth.
Two factors stood out tasting this chocolate. First was its smooth texture and thick, soft melt, which was quite unlike the chalkiness sometimes found in 85%-and-above chocolate. Second was the intense flavour of fennel that seemed to function as a sheer overlay. While the bar had notes of hazelnut, walnut, iron, burnt toast and even – though this clearly marks me Australian and I believe derives from the mineral strength of the cacao – burnt toast with a skerrick of vegemite, the fennel was ever-present.
Nocturne’s thick texture and lack of sweetness makes it not for the faint of [chocolate] heart. The bar does, however, exemplify how diverse chocolate can be, depending on the cacao used, what type of sugar is chosen, and whether emuslifiers or vanilla are added. To further illustrate this…
My opinion of Lindt are as follows: 70% no thanks, 85% yes please, Excellence Chili the perfect accompaniment to watching Ellen with my mother on the couch. (I miss watching Ellen with my mother on the couch!)
Here is the first line of my tasting notes on Lindt’s 90% bar: HOLY MOLY COOKIES BROWNIES COOKIE COOKIES COOKIES BUT NOT SWEET.
I’m nothing if not eloquent.
But I do stand by my reaction. Each time I have this, I’m overwhelmed by how much it tastes like a malt-y, wheat-y, oat-y chocolate chip cookie – just without the sweetness. I love it. Absolutely love it. To me, it’s not bitter, or at least not in an acrid, screw-up-your-face way. Though I must admit that I gave some to L.MiteMaster and Mrs.C and they looked at me like I was crazy when I said “cookies!” I think the cookie idea emanates from the bar’s strong vanilla flavour. To Lindt’s credit, they opt here for real vanilla rather than the fake vanillin flavouring used by so many large-scale chocolate companies.
I love that there is no tanginess or fruitiness to the Lindt 90%, nor even much earthiness. The chocolate simply has that lingering cookie flavour and a hint of brownies – the kind made with cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate (which is not usually a good thing, but works here).
Seeing as I’ve been rather verbose these past two days, I’ll cut myself off here. Though only from the writing, mind you. Not from the chocolate.