Hey, guess what? I just realised this is another chocolate from my Fairy [God]Mother! Except, in this instance, she was working not under her Fairy pseudonym but her Actual Title. That is to say, this chocolate was given to me inside a birthday card signed by my mum and my dad, and was the extra treat-jewel in my birthday-crown.
(If you’re interested, that particular 23rd-birthday-present-crown from my parents was made up of a new kettle for Smurf Kitchen, a macaron cookbook related to my Paris macaron adventures, and a boxed set of Sondheim DVDs that was also from my brother. My stupendous, much-loved brother, who absolutely never sat on my head when we were growing up*.)
Vivani 85% Organic Dark Chocolate
I haven’t tried many of Vivani’s chocolates, although I do remember being delighted by its dark with crunchy caramel (like the grown-up version of Lindt’s Caramel Excellence bar) a year or so ago. I tend to be a big fan of over-80% cacao chocolates (as you may be able to tell from my reviews of Lindt’s 90%, Endangered Species’ 88%, and Theo’s 91% bars), so I was looking forward to this. What I love about high percentage chocolate is the earthiness found, more often than not, in its taste. When done well, this earthiness conveys depth and bitterness without tasting acrid or burnt.
Vivani almost hit this mark – almost! – but fell just a little bit shy of my Zenith Of Tasty High-Percentage Goodness.
Unlike Ten Degrees’ Chilli Chocolate, which burst forth with sweet and intense chocolate aromas as soon as it left its packaging (I love how that sounds as if the chocolate tried to make a run for it…), Vivani’s 85% had a more tentative aroma. Breathing deeply, I could detect something vaguely spicy in the scent, but not spicy in the chilli-sense. More like… garam masala, or a prickle of smoke at the back of your throat.
Putting a piece in my mouth, I was pleased to discover a softer melt than, say, Lindt’s 85%, which is quite resistant to dissolving. The taste, however, was less pleasantly earthy than that Lindt bar. There was a definite note of burnt coffee beans, and the finish was all about red fruits: raspberries and red currants were the clearest images in my mind.
I was intrigued by how noticeably absent vanilla was in the taste of this Vivani chocolate. Sure enough, the ingredients were merely cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and raw cane sugar. However, I don’t mean for you to get the wrong impression about this chocolate. It’s not awful, but it’s also not something I would recommend to anyone uncomfortable with bitter dark chocolate. It’s a bit too intense in sour and burnt flavours to foist on the unsuspecting, and yet I will say, in its favour, that its more pleasant chocolatey flavours lingered for a delightfully long time on the palate after the chocolate itself disappeared down my throat.
I believe that its dark intensity will make it a perfect match for my daily maple-syrup-sweetened bowls of porridge. Surely Goldilocks would find such a breakfast to be juuuuuuust right?
* That was a lie, in case you couldn’t tell. He totally did.