Friday, September 27, 2013

Chocolat Stella Dark Chocolate with Stevia Extract

Nearly 70 years in existence, Chocolat Stella, AKA Chocolat Bernrain is one of the better known makers of Swiss chocolate. Started by the Muller family, the business continues to be run by the third generation. The Switzerland-based company is renowned for organic, fair trade, Kosher and functional chocolate specialities and today, sells a vast range of products. Widely exported, you will find a few bars of Stella at almost every store that stocks imported chocolate.

I was curious about this brand for a while, but it was only after I spotted this variety that I felt compelled to pick it up. I've tried several sugar free chocolates, like Bernique and La Confiteria Delaviuda but none with this interesting herb as a sugar substitute. For those who don't know, here's some Wiki tidbit about Stevia:

Stevia is is a herb from the sunflower family, native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations. With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has attracted attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar sweeteners.

Stevia is commonly sold at chemists and supermarkets, but is not as popular as artificial sweeteners. I remember tasting stevia leaves at a herb garden in Kerala and was very curious to know how it would taste in chocolate. The Stella dark chocolate (with 53% cocoa) with stevia extract didn't seem to me any different from other sugar-free chocolates and I was most disappointed by the after taste. Perhaps I was hoping a herb would have none of those unpleasant things chemical sweeteners do. But as the Wiki entry suggests, high concentrations may leave an aftertaste. The chocolate wasn't very smooth either, so there was little in terms of saving grace. I much prefer and recommend Bernique for sugar free chocolates, if that's what you must have.

Don't bother spending INR 345 for a 100 g bar, although you might want to try their other 'sugary' varieties as I will too.

RATING: 2.5/5

Friday, September 20, 2013

Green & Black's Organic Butterscotch Milk Chocolate

Since my one true chocolate aficionado friend mentioned Green & Black's  to me as one of the best chocolates in the world (really, no exaggeration), I've been looking high and low for this UK-based brand. I came across three precious bars at a local supermarket in my area, which stocks rare, imported chocolate. The shopkeeper gave me a knowing smile, when I lunged at the bars at the display window and said, "These bars come very rarely, and when they do they get picked up immediately...just like this." I gave him an embarrassed smile and paid for this lovely bar of Green & Black's Organic Butterscotch Milk Chocolate.

The brand has been around for quite some time and was founded in 1991 by Craig Sams, founder of Whole Earth, an organic foods company and his journalist wife, Josephine Fairley. The brand is committed to making chocolate from organic cocoa and with Fairtrade practices. It has won a number of awards, most notably Britain's first Fairtrade Chocolate for their Maya Gold bar in 1994. The brand has since grown immensely and now makes a range of products including ice creams and baking products. It was bought over by Cadbury, now Mondelez International in 2005, but they run it as a separate business, keeping Green & Black's ethos intact.

Green & Black is most famous for their vast range of chocolates, and I now know why. The Green & Black's Organic Butterscotch Milk Chocolate is easily one of the most amazing chocolates I've ever eaten, thanks to the distinct taste of organic molasses. Butterscotch toffee is usually made with just butter and sugar, but this brand uses raw molasses in its recipe, which makes it so different. The other organic ingredients include Raw Cane Sugar, Whole Milk Powder, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Butterscotch, and Vanilla Extract.

While the chocolate is smooth, the unrefined ingredients give it a 'raw'ish flavour, something our tongues have gotten unused to because of the refined foods that surround us. The bits of butterscotch toffee are interspersed beautifully in the chocolate and proffer a strong flavour. I wonder how wonderful their dark chocolate variants will be, when their milk chocolate is so glorious. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to wait for whatever lot my local supermarket brings in next. But if and when you spot a bar of G&B's, you must try it. It costs INR 352 for a 100 g bar, but it's so worth it!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Oreo Double Delight

Whatever they do to the Oreo, I'm going to think they are overrated. Since the world-famous brand was launched in India in 2011 (almost a 100 years after it was first created in 1912, FYI), it has been aggressively promoted. So despite tough competition from brands like Sunfeast, Britannia and Parle, Cadbury India (owned by Mondelez International; previously Kraft Foods) has managed to keeping the sales figures up In India.

While the original Oreo recipe calls for dark chocolate sandwich cookies with vanilla creme in between, it brings out variations from time to time. The dark chocolate cream Oreo is easily available and I even remember seeing a blueberry/ blackcurrant variety at a store. Speaking of varieties, I spotted this one recently. The Double Delight Oreo has two kinds of cream  - chocolate and peanut butter.

Both are equally lame. The chocolate cream tastes nothing like chocolate, so with the peanut butter cream. It has a vague sort of flavour and the plain vanilla is definitely better. The cookie remains the same; made of dark chocolate and the familiar logo-flowers-dots-and-dashes design. This version has been made and exported from Singapore, and Oreo releases such limited edition flavours the world over from time to time.

The 137 g pack costs INR 65, and definitely something you can give a miss. Unless, of course, you are among the Oreo fanatics who make it the highest selling biscuit in the whole world.

Chew on this:If every Oreo Biscuit ever made were stacked on top of each other, the pile would reach to the moon and back more than five times!

RATING: 2.5/5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ritter Sport Mini Bunte Vielfalt

Once you've tasted this popular German brand of chocolate, it is impossible to not keep going back to it. My first two 'encounters' with Ritter Sport were memorable with Marzipan scoring 3 and Whole Hazelnuts scoring 3.5 and I couldn't wait to taste the many other flavours the brand makes. This assorted pack called Bunte Vielfalt, which is 'colourful variety' in German was the perfect option.

The pack offers seven of their 25+ varieties and includes Fine Milk Chocolate, Butter Biscuit, Hazelnuts, Yogurt, Cornflakes, Praline and Marzipan and may I say they're all fantastic. What I like about is the brand is the complete lack of fuss and focus on quality. Their simple packaging design in bright colours and robust flavours underlines this.

Of the seven, I found the Yogurt flavoured chocolate the best with the slightly sour filling complementing the sweet milk chocolate oh-so-brilliantly. The next in line was the Butter Biscuit. Might I use Amul's line to describe this one? The biscuit was 'utterly butterly delicious'. Cornflakes came a close third with its perfect crunchiness. The Praline, Hazelnut, Marzipan, and Fine Milk chocolates fared similarly with no real surprises. However, the chocolate quality was ace for them all.

The 150g pack with nine pieces costs just INR 325, and is imported by Dugar Overseas. It is easily available at all fancy supermarkets and is a great buy.

RATING: 3.5/5

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lindt Excellence Orange Intense

Recently, a reader of my blog commented on one of the blog posts here saying he is anti Lindt because he thinks they are overrated. I couldn't disagree more. There's a reason... no, plenty of reasons why Lindt is one of the best chocolate makers in the world. And God knows the competition is tough with new chocolate brands being rolled out pretty much every month. Lindt has made and continues to make the finest chocolates in the Swiss tradition.

In the past, I've reviewed a number of Lindt variants on Chocosophy, including Chilli, Wasabi, Sea Salt and Premium Dark.and given that Lindt has an amazing range, I shall continue to feature them. This time, as you can see, is Orange Intense's turn. Of Lindt's flavoured chocolates, Chili and Wasabi are my absolute favourites, not so much orange. Frankly, I've never understood the pairing. However, orange chocolate is a very popular flavour, much like the perplexing mint chocolate, and Lindt would have to cater to the demand.

The dark chocolate (a disappointing 48%) comprises orange slivers and almonds to give it a lovely texture. However, the taste is not as 'intense' as it promises to be and I'd have liked it to be zestier. But it is much better than the Cadbury Silk Orange Peel (shit) they make around here. Since the smoothness of all Lindt chocolates is incomparable, I won't say much else about it. If you like Orange-flavoured chocolate, you'll enjoy this, but this is certainly not one of my favourites.

A 100g bar is priced somewhere around INR 230-250, depending on the retailer and it is available pretty much at every decent department or confectionery store.


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