Sometimes life is about bargaining.
(For example, today at morning tea I ate five chocolate chip cookies (post to come), so for afternoon tea I ate four carrots*.)
The chocolate below was a definite product of bargaining. See, I still have chocolates from overseas in my to-nibble pile, and some of these are drawing near to their expiry date. Ergo, I should eat them. But at the same time, I recently received a care package from Lauren and L.MiteMaster, and the chocolates therein have been beckoning to me with their newness.
The bargain? I was allowed to dip into the L-squared package, but I had to choose the chocolate I thought I’d love the least. That way, I’d still be saving the best for last, and could return to my scheduled-chocolate-consumption with a minimum of guilt.
Lake Champlain Select Origin Dark Chocolate Bar – Tanzania 75%
So, why did I think this Tanzanian chocolate from Lake Champlain would be less loved than other chocolates in my stash? It might have something to do with the fact that I kept reading “Tanzania” as “Tasmania”, and that I find it hard to believe that people with three heads could make good chocolate**.
No, no, the real reason I was tentative about this chocolate was the blurb on the back of its packaging, which described the bar as having the “tanginess of slightly wild cocoa”. Tanginess is one of my least favourite chocolate characteristics, but never you fear – I won’t let such a silly prejudice get in the way of my trying a new piece of sugary wonderment.
Made simply from cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soybean lecithin and vanilla, this vegan and gluten-free chocolate was glossy in appearance and had a loud crisp snap that heralded its good tempering. In addition, the aroma put forth was strong and evocative, with tangy fruit notes such as raisins, red plums, and even red wine supporting Lake Champlain’s aforementioned description.
Bracing myself for an assault of sour raspberry and plum, I took a careful bite of one of the deer-embossed squares. (“Don’t do it,” my mind screamed. “Don’t eat Bambi!”)
But here’s the kicker: there was no assault. There was only a dusky, creamy, subtle, non-acidic, honey-tinged cocoa sweetness that countradicted everything I’ve come to expect from Tanzanian (and that area of Africa’s) chocolate.
For a 75% chocolate, this Tanzanian bar was remarkably mellow and unassertive. There were faint hints of smoke, but nothing overtly burnt or acidic in the taste. The vanilla was like a lace tablecloth over a dinner table, as it sweetened the chocolate without entirely obscuring its complex earthy darkness. Other notes I picked up on were cashews, almonds, rooibos tea, demerara sugar, floral honey, and dancing unicorns.
Okay, so that last one was a lie, but I think you’ve seen my point. Despite going into this chocolate believing I wouldn’t be seduced, it found its way into my heart.
* Want to know the weird part? Or the part that would make nutritionists around the world cringe? I felt perfectly peppy after the cookies, but nauseous after the carrots. This surprised even me, as I routinely eat enormous bowls of unadorned veggies. (I like to think it’s what keeps my immune system functioning.)
** I jest, I jest. I have relatives in Tasmania, and I promise you none of them have three heads. They do quite well enough with only two apiece#.
# I’m sorry. I can’t help myself.