I spent a great deal of my childhood in and around Dartmoor as my father was from Plymouth and still go down often, but in all of that time I never came across the Dartmoor Chilli Farm. That was until I saw that they had won a coveted 3 gold stars in the “Dark Chocolate bars” category of the Great Taste Awards. And seeing as both chilli and coffee are my two most favourite flavourings with dark chocolate, I just jumped at the chance to buy some and review. I also bought their peppermint dark chocolate bar, but they were very kind and also added in Hazelnuts and Cranberries bar and the Ginger bar too – so I’ll be reviewing those later.
When I review chocolate from the smaller producers I tend not to focus on the packaging and the nutritional information as they generally don’t have the budgets to spend on all this almost-superfluous stuff. I tend to focus more on the senses. The visual appearance is, of course, important, but this bar does well. It has a nice label that clearly defines what the bar is about. It’s got a clear indication that is bar isn’t meek and mild with the pictures of the chillies. And it also states that the dominant flavour is coffee and that it’s suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
With that done, I move on to the aroma. I couldn’t find any overt or over the top notes. There is a non-robust coffee aroma mixed with a slight sweetness but no hint of the chilli – that was to come! And I’m not sure where the couverture comes from, but behind the coffee edge I’m sure I’ve witnessed it before. There’s a dry earthiness to it with a touch of redcurrant which just makes you want to snap some off and dive in.
This snap was crisp when breaking a piece from the bar but less distinct when separating two blocks. The chocolate crystals were incredibly tight, with only a few air bubbles and the melt in the mouth exceptional. You’ll probably not notice that too much as your mind will be fixated on the burning sensation at the back of your throat – a welcome feature of good quality chilli chocolate.
But this bar of chocolate is more than that. It’s more than a chilli-induced kick. There are many flavour layers to this bar. It has an earthy base then a sweetness layer which is built on by the natural chocolate flavour, above which is the coffee characteristics and then finally topped by the sharp chilli. Utterly delicious.
And it doesn’t stop there. There is an awesome melt. The chocolate lasts a great deal of time as it reduces. As it melts it pleasures your mouth and even after it has disappeared you can still feel the coffee flavours at the front of your mouth and the chilli at the back.
There is one thing wrong with this bar, however. The price . At £2.25 they’re either very benevolent, or they not greedy enough. I’d put the price up a fair bit more, or sell it via other stockists for another 70% and keep their current regular customers happy. And as they’ve been going 96 years already, I’d say they’d have a good few of those. To me this is what chocolate is about. Small producers with experience making fantastic chocolate. Who needs Cadbury’s?
And when I’ve worked through the selection of the other jams and pickles in my fridge I’ll be buying some of theres too!