As a guest reviewer, I looked through the pile of chocolate bars I was sent in order to identify a middle of the road one to start off with, and I chose well with this 64% Madagascar Noir from chocolatetradingco.com.
The packaging consists of a looped sleeve of thick paper into which a sealed clear plastic bag is slid, a structure not unlike a tiny ready meal. Unfortunately the chocolate is very prone to escaping its open-sided home. The paper sleeve is good quality with a slight striped grain from the high rag content. Across the back is a carelessly placed white sticker that looks like an afterthought and dissolves any trace of trust I might have started to accumulate for the brand.
A second, even more untidy looking label reads “2103” which could mean anything from a date, to a batch number, to an infatuation with pricing guns only found in filthy privately owned petrol stations on the edge of Skelmesdale.
Inside, I found a chocolate bar so well sealed I would have felt safe if there was a sample of the small pox virus in there. Sadly, when I burst open the bag, it was clear that all of the life was sucked out as effectively as the air. I can understand the logic in sealing the bar so well, as this 100g slab can’t afford to lose any flavour.
The back of the packaging proudly shouts a lot of patronising generic information about fine chocolate, as if anyone enjoying it is certainly a stranger to the very concept of food being available in more than one level of quality. Finding the aroma of the chocolate provokes a sniffing fit that’d put Kerry Katona and a rolled up £20 note to shame. But there’s something there. A simple but warm reminder of a peat-nosed mid-range whiskey.
The bar is moulded into squares without any decoration or branding. Catching the light reveals an incredibly polished surface, not unlike a cheap chocolate brazil nut sprayed with too much canuba wax. The end result is like a lousy bathroom wall mosaic tile. The bar breaks cleanly with a reassuring click that would petrify anyone over the age of 75.
Tasting instantly evokes memories of the back of the packaging, and its narcissistic diatribe about what isn’t included in the chocolate. The flavour is middle of the road, and very simple. This is a dark chocolate that might be enjoyed by people who don’t like it too tart and bitter. There’s a fresh, fruity, citrus unripe-fruit like tang battling what seems to be a poor choice of sugar to form a dull but well balanced binary of flavours.
There’s nothing aggressive, offensive, or even daring about this chocolate. It’s a chocolate Dido album, with only a little less chance of it putting you into a coma. It keeps its head down once it’s in your mouth but has a huge chip on its shoulder if you try and read the back of the packet. The texture is perfectly smooth, giving a very slick and refined quality.
Perhaps an acceptable stocking filler gift for someone new to dark chocolate, but there’s little to lead you to buy this so-so bar over what else is out there other than to smartly pad out a cluster of other gifts from the same chocolatier. This isn’t the best bar of chocolate in the world, in fact I doubt it’s one of the best from Chocolate Trading Co.